Skip to main content

Full text of "Astounding v27n06 (1941 08)"

See other formats


JURISDICTION 



by NAT SCHACHNER 

AUGUST • 1941 






' 







It’s annoying when folks 
just drop in . . . but 




infectious dandruff 



is more annoying still! 




Get after it with 

Listerine at the 
first sign of trouble 



^hat makes the infectious type of 
dandruff so annoying, so distressing, 
are those troublesome flakes on col- 
lar or dress . . . and the scalp irrita- 
tion and itching . . . that so often 
accompany the condition. 

If you're troubled in this way, 
look out — you may have this com- 
mon form of dandruff, so act now 
before it. gets worse. 



The Treatment 

MEN: Douse fuU strength Listerine 
Antiseptic on the scalp morning and 
night. WOMEN: Part the hair at va- 
rious places, and apply Listerine Anti- 
septic right along the part with a medi- 
cine dropper, to avoid wetting the hair 
excessively. 

Always follow with vigorous and per- 
sistent massage with fingers or a good 
hairbrush. Continue the treatment so 
long as dandruff is in evidence. And even 
though you’re free from dandruff, enjoy 
a Listerine Antiseptic massage once a 
week to guard against infection. Listerine 
is the same antiseptic that has been 
famous for more than 50 years as a 
mouth wash and gargle. 



LISTERINE — the delightful treatment 



Has Helped Thousands 

Start right in with Listerine Anti- 
septic and massage. This is the 
medictil treatment that has shown 
such amazing residts in a substantial 
ma jority of clinical test cases . . . the 
treatment that has also helped thou- 
sands of other people. 

You, too, may find it as helpful as 
it is delightful. Listerine is so easy, 
so simple to use, and so stimulating! 
You simply douse it on the scalp 
morning and night and follow with 
vigorous and persistent massage. 

Thousands of users ha ve marvelled 
at how flakes and scales begin to 
disappear, how much cleaner and 
healthier their scalps appear. And 
remember: 

Kills "Bottle Bacillus" 

Listerine kills millions of germs 
on scalp and hair, including Pityros- 
porum Ovale, the strange “Bottle 
Bacillus” recognized by outstand- 



ing dandruff specialists as a causa- 
tive agent of infectious dandruff. 

This germ-killing action, we be- 
lieve, helps to explain why, in a clini- 
cal test, 76% of dandruff sufferers 
showed either complete disappear- 
ance of or marked improvement in 
the symptoms of dandruff within a 
month. Lambert Pharma cal Co., 
*S t. Louis, Missouri. 




mM~ 0a. AAJuth* ay t/ <U rryt^</iZ^<*A^ 

^ <iwrt,e£t. ***- J j€aJ JTh>i>t 

j), (?. J. CcxjlaajL 'Ucasi ! &tt ^ 

x^iaA' > < 2 W 

£aXL*-4j a. tvLCcsCy, ayuM yij^Cx^po^y . 'Xrmfc /O&^C 
JullJ. ! (faJfJL *_ yyxr**- j**i***L frt, 

<x#ud tm^JL ma+Jimu JteLA^y jJhkj XaJtr «^vc 

<£<?,?/. &HAA*&,as*u< 

MtlfiJ a, d 0i*jL^U ^A/rkf /**&*- vrfaM.tt*t£* 
Jomh. (LOdUhsWU*-’ /W/U^uv^^ ! Jfaid #axmJ zUf 
£Um^tr>c# /fcA/ /Wnu/ v 0 > o/» ^yt'vc 

sMI^a^o. frc. 




INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOLS 

CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF SERVICE TO AMBITIOUS AMERICANS 



BOX 4 S 11 -L, SCRANTON. PENNA. 

Without cost or obligation, please send me a copy of your booklet, “Who Wins and 
Why,” and full particulars about the course beftre which I have marked X: 

TECHNICAL AND INDUSTRIAL COURSES 

□ Mfg. of Pulp wad Paper 

□ Marine Engines 

□ Mechanical Drafting 

□ Mechanical Engineering 

□ Mine Foreman 

□ Navigation 

□ Pattern making 

□ Pharmacy □ Plumbing 

□ Poultry Farming 

□ Practical Telephony 

□ Publie Works Engineering 

□ Radio, General 

□ Radio Operating 

□ Radio 8errioing 



□ Agriculture Q Air Brake 
O Air Conditioning 

O Architectural Drafting 

□ Architecture 

O Auto Engine Tune-up 
O Auto Technician 

□ Aviation □ Boiiermaking 
O Bridge Engineering 

□ Building Estimating 
O Chemistry 

□ Civil Engineering 

□ Coal Mining 

O Concrete Engineering 

□ Contracting and Building 



□ Cotton Manufacturing 

□ Diesel Engines 

□ Electrical Drafting 

□ Electrical Engineering 

□ Electric Lighting 

□ Fire Bosses 

□ Foundry Work 

□ Fruit Growing □ Heating 

□ Heat Treatment of Metals 

□ Highway Engineering 

□ House Planning 

□ Locomotive Engineer 

□ Machinist 

□ Management of Inventions 

BUSINESS COURSES 

□ College Preparatory □ Foremaruhip 

D Commercial □ French □ Grade School 

□ Cost Accounting □ High SchooL □ Illustrating 

□ C. P. Accounting □ Lettering Show Card* 

□ First Year College □ Managing Men at Work 

HOME ECONOMICS COURSES 

O Advanced Dressmaking □ Home Dressmaking 

□ Foods and Cookery □ Professional Dressmaking and Designing 



□ R. R. Section Foremaa 

□ R. R. Signalmen's □ Refrigeration 

□ Sanitary Engineering 

□ Sheet Metal Work 

□ Steam Electrio □ Steam Engine* 

□ Steam Fitting 

□ Structural Drafting 

□ Structural Engineering 

□ Surveying and Mapping 

□ Telegraph Engineering 

□ Textile Designing 

□ Tool making 

□ Welding, Electric and Gag 

□ Woolen Manufacturing 



□ Accounting □ Advertising 

□ Bookkeeping 

□ Business Correspondence 

□ Business Management 

□ Cartooning □ Civil Service 



□ Railway Poetal Clock . 

□ Salesmanship 

□ Secretarial 

□ Sign Lettering 

□ Traffic Management 

□ Tea Room and Cafeteria 
Management, Catering 



Q Spanish 



Name.. 

City.... 



Age Address * 

State Present Position 

Canadian residents send coupon to International Correspondence Schools Canadian. Limited, Montreal, Canada 



British residents send coupon to l. 0. B.. 7 1 Kingsvnv, London, W. C. t, England 



AST— 1H 




A tnn wperimc* il CHARLES "TEA” STONE, Dallas, Tent, wnfd's foremast baiter ef kl( (ante with bew and arrows 

"RETURNING FROM A 
HUNTING TRIP in the Afri- 
can bush one night,’’ 
writes Mr. Stone, "I 
stopped to re set a heavy 
log trap. Putting aside 
the haunch of meat I was 
carrying, I lifted the dead- 
fall. Suddenly I slipped! 
The log fell, pinning me 
flat! 



"THEN I HEARD A LION 
ROAR! It had followed the 
scent of the fresh meat! 
As I worked frantically to 
free myself, there was a 
stealthy rustle in the un- 
derbrush! I knew that 
death crouched in the 
darkness! Then I thought 
of my flashlight . . . 
switched it on . . . 




"TWO ENORMOUS LIONS stood snarling at me . . . ready to spring! But the 
piercing beam held them at bay. Digging frantically at the soft earth, I 
finally got free of the trap. Thanks to those dependable 'Eveready’ jresh 
dated batteries, I was soon back at camp. a j - „ 

(Signed) u /ftenZ 

The word "Eveready-’ is a registered trade-mark of National Carbon Company, Inc , 



EXT**,. 
LONG L'l* 






ASTOUNDING 

SCIENCE-FICTION ' 

TITLE REGISTERED U. S. PATENT OFFICE 

CONTENTS AUGUST, 1941 VOL. XXVII NO. & 

The editorial contents of this magazine have not been published before, are 
protected by copy ri ght and cannot be reprinted without the publ isher's perm i ssi on. 



NOVELETTES 

JURISDICTION Nat Schachner ... 9 

Evea a hard-working crook can’t make a living without being 
a space-lawyer, an astronomer, and handy with pistols too — - 

BIDD5VER Theodore Sturgeon . . 129 

Biddiver simply made a mistake. He took the wrong 
“car” — which wasn’t a car, and took him where 
the frightened little man didn’t dream of going — 

SHORT STORIES 

A METEOR LEGACY Raymond Z. Galium . 37 

If meteors do carry life-seeds from other worlds, 
what chance would they have unless given a differ- 
ent, unearthly environment? And if they were — 

KLYSTRON FORT William Corson ... 43 

For a lonely klystron fort attendant, the whale made a nice 
sort of pet — only whales and submarines can be confused — 

BACKLASH Jack Williamson . .143 

Curiously, the best way to annihilate the enemy was 
not to kill him, but to let him escape entirely free! 

SERIAL 

METHUSELAH'S CHILDREN (Part II) Robert Heinlein ... 33 

The Jockaira were surprisingly helpful, friendly 
people to a group of Earthmen driven from their 
home world. There was one little item, though — 

ARTICLE 

PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING . . . . Willy Ley 119 

Science article on the question of when does an animal 
become an engineer; when he builds with what he has, or 
devises means of building with things not native to him? 



READERS' DEPARTMENTS 

THE EDITOR'S PAGE 6 

IN TIMES TO COME 36 

Department of Prophecy and Future Issues. 

THE ANALYTICAL LABORATORY 109 

An Analysis of Readers' Opinions. 

■HASS TACKS 139 

Concerning Purely Personal Preferences. 

BOOK REVIEWS 144 



Illustrations by M. Isip, Kotliker, Kramer, Orban, Rogers and Schneeman. 

COVER BY ROGERS 

All stories in this magarine are Action. No actual persons are designated 
either by name or character. Any similarity is coincidental. 

Monthly publication Issued by Street A Smith Publications, Incorporated, 79 Seventh Avenue, New 
York City. Allen L. Grammer, President; Henry W. Ralston. Vice President; Gerald H. Smith, 
Treasurer and Secretary, Copyright. 1941, in U. 8. A. and Groat Britain by Street a Smith 
Publications, Int. Reentered as Set cad -class Matter. February 7, 1938, at the Post OMce at Ness 
York, under Act of Consross ol March 3, 1879. Suhsertptions to Countrloa In Pan American Union. 
12.25 por year; elsewhere. $2.75 per year. Wo cannot accept responsibility tor unsolicited manuscripts 
or artwork. Any material submitted must Include return postage. 

Printed la ta the U. S. A. 

& SMITH PUBLICATIONS, INC. • 79 7lh AVE., NEW YORK 




© 



ATOMIC POI1IEA vs. COAL 

The energy concentration possible in atomic power, with the resultant 
cheapness of energy obtained from such a source, would seem a pretty solid 
assurance that the laborious mining of coal will cease as soon as the atom 
goes to work. 

That may well be a mere “seeming” however — for coal is very far from 
being no more than a source of energy. One thing it is hard to appreciate 
is the supendous amount of coal the United States consumes in a single year, 
a quantity that, singly, exceeds in mass the entire sum total of all othefr 
things produced. The weight of iron, foods, textiles, paper, oil products, 
copper, the other secondary metals, all added together, is not equal to the 
annual consumption of that one other item — coal. 

The consumption of coal is so great, in fact, that a material which is 
present in coal as a very minor impurity can be the basis of a major industry. 
Sulphur is present in only very small amounts in coal — but New York City’s 
chimneys produce some 2,000 tons of sulphur dioxide on a snappy winter 
day. Because coal contains a small amount of tar in addition to the main 
substance — carbon — that portion of the coal which is processed in coking 
ovens yields some 100,000,000 gallons of benzol, 20,000,000 gallons of toluol, 
1,000,000,000 pounds of ammonium sulphate, 50,000,000 pounds of am- 
monia, and 560,000,000 gallons of tar in one year. Benzol and toluol, as 
well as other compounds found in the tar, are all important source materials 
for the growing plastics industries, as well as supplying adequately the dye- 
stuffs industry and helping out the dry cleaners. The ammonium sulphate 
and ammonia go into fertilizers and explosives. (Atomic explosives, in- 
cidentally, won’t be usable for such purposes as quarrying, mining, tun- 
neling, et cetera. They’re too intense. The miner wants a slow, heavy ex- 
plosive that gives a grunt and a heave, not an abrupt, violent crack-o’-doom 
riving blow.) 

Coal is used in huge quantities not alone for power, but in its role of 
chemical reducing agent. In a blast furnace, coal heats the ore, true enough 
— but you can heat that iron oxide to incandescence from now to doomsday 
by electric power and'still have no iron. Carbon reduces iron oxide to iron, 
yielding carbon dioxide. Of course, you could use electric power to electro- 
plate out the iron in an acid bath — but a blast furnace is cheaper to build 
and operate even if the energy to generate electricity costs nothing. Iron, 
copper, lead, zinc — all the metals of commerce are produced by the reducing 
action of coal at one point or another. 

Atomic power may replace coal as an energy source in one respect — but 
coal will remain for unguessable ages as man’s prime source of the chemical 
substance carbon, and a whole raft of immensely valuable and important 
carbon compounds. It’s cheap, it’s plentiful, it’s easy to handle, it has de- 
sirable physical properties that make an ore-melt porous, and it contains 
quantities of useful organic carbon and nitrogen compounds ready made in 
easily recoverable form. 

Coal’s dirty stuff— but wonderfully useful, atomic energy or not! 

The Editor. 1 




FULLY I 

A SHOP COMPANION THAT ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS 
Easy to read and understand — flexible covers — Handy 
size 5 x 6J4x 2— a ready reference that answers your 
questions accurately. 



# 

A KEY TO 
MODERN SHOP PRACTICE 

PRACTICAL INSIDE INFORMATION 

For Every Machinist, T oolmaker , E ngi - 
neer. Machine Operator, Mechanical 
Draughtsman, Metal Worker, Mechan- 
ic or Student. This 1600 Page Handy 
Book Covers Modern Machine Shop 
Practice in All Its Branches. 

A COMPLETE INSTRUCTOR WITH 
READY REFERENCE INDEX 

New from Cover to Cover. Tells How to 
Operate and Set Up Lathes, Screw & 
Milling Machines, Shapers, Drill Presses 
& All Other Machine Tools. 

S PRACTICAL BOOKS IN ONE! 

60 FULLY ILLUSTRATED CHAPTERS 

Covering: 1 — Modern Machine Shop 
Practice. 2 — Blue Print Reading and 
How to Draw. 3 — Calculations & Mathe- 
matics for Machinists. 4 — Shop Physics. 
5 — How to Use the Slide Rule. 

r _.ASK TO SEE IT!— 

| THEO. AUDEL & CO., 49 West 23rd St, New York 

5 Mail AUDELS MACHINISTS & TOOLMAK- 
1 ERS HANDY BOOK, Price H on 7 Days Free 
m Trial. If O. K. I will remit SI in 7 days and $1 
1 Monthly until Si is Paid. Otherwise I will return it. 



TO GET THIS ASSISTANCE FOR 
YOURSELF SIMPLY FILL IN AND 
MAIL COUPON TODAY 



$4 COMPLETE | 
" A I 
MO. | 



$41 COMPLI 
/L PAY *1 
Tr ONLY I 



THEO. AUDEL & C0. f 49 W. 23rd St, New York 1 



Name — ... — 

Address — 

Occupation. — — 

Reference. 



V 



Here's a source of ultraviolet light for 
your experiments. The Argon Glow Lamp 
and the Fluorescence Kit, sent to you 
FREE with a subscription to ASTOUNDING 
SCIENCE-FICTION! 

The kit, in addition to the lamp itself, con- 
tains samples of fluorescent inks, fluorescent 
dyes, and a complete instruction sheet. Tha 
Argon Glow Lamp needs no special attach- 
ments, operates on AC or DC current, and will 
give from 2000 to 3000 hours of service 
scarcel y affecting the electric meter. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for science 
fans to experiment with u!tra"iolet rays. 

We're glad to send you this valuable kit 
with your year's supply of ASTOUNDING 
— so fill out the coupon now! 

ASTOUNDING 

dmnw-f/tftm 

79 SEVENTH AVENUE. NEW YORK. N. V. 

Inclosed is two dollars for a year's sub- 
scription to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, 
plus the ultraviolet fluorescence kit. 



NAME... 
ADDRESS 
CITY 



STATE 



• »* 



9 




JUfilSDICTIOn 

By nat Schachner 



Kerry Dale, sky-lawyer, proves a crook may be 
smart at sabotage, murder end assorted crime, 
but it takes a navigator to steal a sky-mine! 

Illustrated by Schneeman 

Simeon Iventon, of Kenton Space fusion. His mildly whiskered saint’s 
Enterprises, Unlimited, was in a ter- visage was screwed up into unutter- 

rific temper. He paced up and down able knots. In his tight-clutched 

the confines of his office with short, fingers was a blue spacegram which 
rapid steps that tossed his deceptive he shook violently at his daughter at 
halo of white hair into utter con- each choking pause in his peroration. 




10 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“Dadblast that dingfoodled young 
scalawag of a Kerry Dale!” he ex- 
ploded. “Look at this, will you? Of 
all the impudent, soncarned — I 
mean condarned — damn it, you 
know what I mean!” When Simeon 
Kenton was exasperated, his tongue 
had a habit of twisting and stum- 
bling over the quick rush of his 
ideas. 

“I think I know what you mean,” 
his daughter, Sally, admitted de- 
murely. Her eyes danced and se- 
creted understanding, albeit slightly 
wicked, humor. She loved her iras- 
cible father, who was known to all 
and sundry as Old Fireball because 
of his habit of exploding on the 
slightest provocation. They might 
tilt at each other and parry deft 
strokes for the sheer intellectual joy 
of the thing, but underneath her 
slim, proud beauty there functioned 
a brain as keen and hard as the one 
that had propelled old Simeon to 
the commanding position he had 
achieved on the space ways and in 
the industrial marts of the System. 

Simeon Kenton, sole owner and 
guiding intelligence of the far-flung 
Kenton Space Enterprises, was more 
than a power. He was an institu- 
tion. His spaceships traveled the 
charted lanes from Venus to the 
Jovian satellites and poked their 
sleek noses inquiringly is to those 
reaches as yet unexplored. His 
word was the law and the prophets 
to thousands of hard-bitten space- 
men who swore with many a public 
oath at his tyranny and wouldn’t 
have exchanged it for the softest- 
cushioned job with any other outfit. 
Even the Interplanetary Commis- 
sion, administrative arbiter of the 
spaceways, thought twice before 
they tangled in legal battle with ex- 
plosive Old Fireball. 

But one young man had refused 
to be overawed by the prestige of 



the Kenton name and had given 
him battle. More than that, he had 
won — much to Simeon’s loud out- 
ward lamentation and secret inner 
delight. Simeon loved a goocl fight, 
and here at last was a foeman who 
seemed worthy of his steel. This 
very same Kerry Dale had been, not 
many months before, a subordinate 
young lawyer in his legal entourage. 

“I think I know what you mean,” 
Sally repeated. “You mean that 
Kerry Dale has turned down your 
proposition.” 

Old Simeon glared at her and 
waved the offending spacegram so 
violently it ripped in his fingers. “I 
offered to take him back into my 
service as a lawyer,” he shouted. “I 
offered to forget that dirty trick he 
pulled on me about the colliding 
asteroids which cost me over a hun- 
dred thousand. I even hinted that 
within a year or so he might succeed 
that dithering ass, Roger Horn, as 
Chief of my Legal Department. I 
mentioned delicately I’d tear up that 
contract he had signed when drunk 
obligating him to eight more months 
of cargo-toting on my ships.” 

“Which was very sweet of you. 
Dad,” murmured Sally, “consider- 
ing that the said Mr. Dale has al- 
ready wangled a general release out 
of you.” 

“Don’t interrupt, child!” snapped 
her father. He returned to his griev- 
ance — the torn, fluttering spacegram 
in his hand. “Yet what do you think 
he had the didgosted effrontery to 
reply.” 

“I have a faint idea; but tell me, 
anyway.” 

“He says — confound him — he 

doesn’t want a job. With me, or 
with anyone else. He’s doing quite 
well on his own; and he expects to 
do even better. However, if I’d be 
willing to associate with him as an 
equal partner in some ventures he 



JURISDICTION 



11 



has in mind, he might consider me.” 

Old Simeon paused for breath. 
His blue eyes glared with baleful in- 
congruity in the mild-mannered 
frame of his visage. “Me!” he 
choked. “Me, Simeon Kenton, be- 
ing offered an equal partnership by 
a babe in arms, a puling young 
whelp!” His very beard seemed to 
quiver and grow electric at the enor- 
mity of .the thought. 

Then, suddenly he stopped and 
grinned. It was an impish, waggish 
grin that transformed his mobile 
countenance into a sunny burst. 
“Not at least,” he amended, “until 
I’ve licked him and taken him down 
a peg or two.” 

“That might lake a long time," 
Sally pointed out. “He won the first 
round over you, and he might just as 
well take the second and the third. 
I think, dad, his proposition isn’t 
such a bad idea at that.” 

Sally didn’t tell her storm-tossed 
parent that she had already sent a 
spacegram to the subject of their 
debate congratulating him on his 
victory over the mighty Simeon. 
They had met only once, and then 
under rather untoward circum- 
stances. To be exact, it was at the 
very moment that Kerry Dale was 
being fired by her father, or was re- 
signing in hot dudgeon — the truth 
of the matter seemed to depend on 
who was telling the story. Sally had 
decided then and there that all the 
other eligible young men who danced 
constant attendance on her meant 
less than nothing. Though young 
Dale had seemingly not even given 
her a second glance, that didn’t mat- 
ter. He would, she was determined, 
and that in the very near future. 

“Not a bad idea?” yelled Simeon. 
“It’s a superlatively atrocious idea! 
Har-rumph! I grant you he knows 
law, but he’s still a young snipper- 



whipper. Just because he took ad- 
vantage of some obscure sections of 
a coff-eaten mode — I mean a mode- 
eaten coff — oh, ding it, you know 
what I mean — to steal my hard- 
earned money from me is no reason 
for this new foundconded impu- 
dence of his. Partner! Bah! And 
bah again!” 

“And triple bah!” agreed Sally. 
“Nevertheless, suppose this same 
impudent young man decides to 
take his proposition, whatever it is, 
to Jericho Foote? You know Jeri- 
cho. He’ll very likely take him up 
on it, just to annoy you.” 

Now the name of Jericho Foote, 
President of Mammoth Exploita- 
tions, was like a red undershirt 
to a bull, or a cobra to a mon- 
goose. Mammoth was Kenton’s 
chief competitor along the space- 
ways. They fought for cargoes and 
trade routes and asteroids. Old 
Simeon, for all his spluttering and 
tough fiber, fought fairly and 
squarely; whereas Foote was devious 
and subterranean in his ways. He 
never met his explosive competitor 
in forthright, honest fashion; he 
never met anyone or anything that 
way. Dark and skulking methods 
were his particular delight; and the 
darker they were and the more they 
skulked, the better. 

“That rubble-dyed Venusian 
swamp snake!” said Simeon incredu- 
lously. “He take up with Kerry 
Dale? Impossible! Dale is too — ” 

“Sensible?” Sally finished for him. 
“That is just what I’ve been saying. 
But if you turn him down — ” 

Her father calmed suddenly. 
“You love him, don’t you?” 

“Yes,” she said. Being her fa- 
ther’s daughter she never evaded an 
issue. “And I expect to marry him 
some day, whether he knows it now 
or not.” 

Looking at her, old Simeon could 



1 * 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



well believe it. No young man could 
long resist his slim, calm-eyed young 
daughter. He went to her and kissed 
her. His voice softened. “He’s got 
the right stuff in him, Sally, in spite 
of his whangdoodled brashness. But 
his head’s liable to grow too big for 
him if he gets what he wants too 
easily. Let him fight the hard way 
for success; the way I did. Let him 
fight me, if necessary; it will do him 
good. And I'll fight him back, tooth 
and nail. If he wins through, I 
want him to win on his own, and not 
because his future father-in-law 
made the way easy.” 

Sally nodded thoughtfully. Then 
a gay smile made a sunburst of her 
countenance. “All right, Dad. Go 
ahead and get in your dirtiest licks. 
But don’t mind if I root for the other 
side.” 

“I won’t.” He flicked the tele- 
caster into life. He scowled at the 
communications operator. “Take a 
spacegram,” he roared. “Addressed 
to Kerry Dale, Planets, Vesta. 
‘Your impudent proposition doesn’t 
even merit turning down. My own 
offer withdrawn. Sent merely out 
of, pity. Wash my hands of you. 
Expect presently to wash my hands 
with you. Kenton.’ 

“There, that will hold him. Now 
we’ll see what stuff he’s made of.” 
He turned grinning toward his 
daughter. But Sally was no longer 
there. She had slipped silently out 
of the office. 

A frown replaced the grin. The 
bluster died. No longer was he mas- 
ter of men; only an anxious parent. 
He shook liis head; screwed up his 
face in thought. 

He returned to the telecaster, and 
connected with the Earth-Mars 
Navigation offices. The clerk rec- 
ognized him. “Good morning, Mr. 
Kenton,” he said obsequiously. 
“What may we do for you?” 



“When’s the next ship leaving for 
Planets?” 

“This evening, sir, at 9: 45. The 
Erebus blasts off from Cradle No. 4, 
sir.” 

“Good. Make one reservation for 
me. Under the name of John Car- 
ter. I don’t want my presence on 
board known.” 

“Of course. We’ll be most happy 
to take care of it for you. You wish 
Suite A, naturally, sir. It’s the very 
best — ” 

But he was talking to a blank 
screen. 

The Erebus was the luxury liner 
of the spaceways. One thousand 
feet long it was, its, hardened dural 
hull gleaming like silver in the pow r - 
erful floodlights. I.s equipment was 
the last word and its appointments 
luxurious. It carried first-class pas- 
sengers only and express packages 
of small bulk but high value. 

The usual crowd of loungers, 
friends and relatives gathered on the 
brightly illuminated rocket field to 
see the Erebus off. The last warn- 
ing signal had been given. The visi- 
tors trooped down the swaying gang- 
plank over the open struts of the 
cradle in which the mighty ship 
pointed its nose slantingly toward 
the stars. People waved outside. 
The passengers stood within the ob- 
servation deck, securely quartzed in, 
waving back. 

Then the protective shields 
whirred into place, cutting off sight 
for the blast-off. The field crew 
moved toward the gangplank, ready 
to swing it away. 

A small aerocab shot like a bat out 
of hell across the field, thrust out 
landing gear and scattered the crowd 
headlong before its slithering stop. 
The car hadn't come to a halt before 
the cabby had flung to the ground, 
snatched at a single lightweight bag 



JURISDICTION 



13 



with one hand and swung at the 
door with the other. But his pas- 
senger, a girl with wind-blown locks 
and hasty traveling costume, had 
already sprung lightly out. 

“Yell for them to hold it,” she 
cried impatiently. “Don’t worry 
about me.” 

The crowd growled, resentful of 
narrow escape. “Who the hell does 
she think she is?” squeaked a burly 
roustabout. “Almost running us 
down like we were — ” 

“Hold the ship!” bellowed the 
cabby. “Miss Kenton’s coming on 
board.” 

The ground crew had the gang- 
plank swinging wide. The foreman 
jumped at the name as if he had 
been blasted. He bellowed in turn. 
The long steel slant jerked, moved 
back into place. The growls of the 
crowd gave way to straining of 
necks, excited comments. The roust- 
about stopped in midflight, gulped 
and retreated hastily into the pro- 
tective anonymity of his fellows. 

But Sally was too used to gapings 
and respectful murmurs to pay any 
attention. She was running with 
lithe swiftness toward the ship; the 
cabby puffing behind her. 

“We didn’t know,” apologized the 
foreman hastily. 

She favored him with a quick 
smile. “Neither did I,” she told him 
and vanished within the reopened 
port. 

The foreman was dazzled. The 
girl had gone, but the smile remained 
with him, to be treasured and 
brought out again and again for in- 
spection. He even foolishly boasted 
of it to his stout, work-roughened 
wife that night while swallowing a 
midnight meal. And regretted it for 
days thereafter. For his wife had a 
jealous heart and a blistering tongue; 
and she brooked no rivals. 



The harried and obsequious 
purser was having a rough time of 
it. 

“If we had only known you were 
taking passage,” he wailed, “I would 
without question have reserved 
Suite A for you, Miss Kenton. But 
you see — ” 

Sally stamped a trim, determined 
foot. She pretended indignation. 
“I don’t see. Why, pray, may I not 
have Suite A?” 

“It’s already occupied. It was re- 
served only this morning. By a Mr. 
John Carter.” 

“And who the devil is this Mr. 
Carter that he rates the only de- 
cent suite on board this ship?” 

The purser thought unhappily of 
the really luxurious quarters he had 
shown this imperious young lady 
and which she had turned down. He 
didn’t realize that under her indig- 
nant-seeming exterior she was en- 
joying herself hugely. Unknown to 
old Simeon, she had returned to his 
private office while he was packing, 
and found the telautotyped plate of 
her father’s reservation under the 
name of Carter. It took her ten 
seconds then to make up her mind 
to board the same ship to Yesta; it 
took her rather more time to throw 
a sufficiency of clothes together in 
a bag. 

“I don’t know who he is,” con- 
fessed the purser, “but he seems a 
most irascible old man. Almost 
blasted me out of the room when I 
stopped in very courteously to ask 
him if he required anything.” 

Sally smiled at this unflattering 
description of her father; hastily 
shifted the smile to a frozen stare. 

“Then get him out. Give him an- 
other room — five other rooms, for all 
I care. I want Suite A.” 

The purser was desolate. “I’d be 
glad to do anything in my power, 
but you haven’t seen this man. He’d 



14 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



bite my head off if I asked him any- 
thing like that. And, after all, the 
Space Code says specifically — ” 

“Bother the Space Code! If 
you’re so frightened of this fellow, 
I’ll speak to him myself. Take me 
to him.” 

The automatic elevator dropped 
them to Deck 3; the moving catwalk 
sped them toward Suite A. The 
purser surreptitiously wiped his 
brow. These rich dames, who 
thought they owned the Universe! 

His discreet buzz was answered 
by a blast from the annunciator. 

“Come in!” 

The annunciator distorted the 
voice, but it couldn’t mask the im- 
patient rasp to it. The purser shut 
his eyes and muttered a hasty 
prayer. There’d be sparks flying 
when these two met. He wished 
himself anywhere else but at this 
particular spot. 

The door whirred open; and they 
stepped in. 

It teas a beautiful suite; there was 
no question of that. The walls were 
photomuraled on receptive metal to 
give the effect of smiling fields back- 
dropped by snow-capped mountains. 
The ceiling appeared an open sky in 
which glowed innumerable worlds. 
Couches nestled around a central 
bath of artificial flame. Open doors 
disclosed twin bedrooms and a bath- 
ing pool filled with activated waters. 

A man’s back bent away from 
them. He was seeking a book in the 
recessed shelves. 

“Can’t I get peace and quiet even 
out in space?” he grumbled. “What 
the devil do you want now?” 

“I want this suite,” said Sally in 
a throaty, altered voice. “And I 
want it in a hurry. I’ll give you ex- 
actly five minutes to pack and get 
out.” 

The purser was horrified. “Now 
please — ” he stalled in protest. 



But the man had jerked erect and 
pivoted on them. He was furious. 
His wispy white hair bristled with 
electric anger. “Give me five min- 
utes! Why, you impertinent — ” 

His jaw dropped ludicrously. 
“Sally!” he shouted. “In the name 
of all the blink-eyed comets, what 
are you doing here?” 

She kissed him. “Suppose I ask 
you the same question? You know 
you’re subject to vertigo.” 

The purser’s eyes goggled. Simeon 
Kenton! Old Fireball himself. Fa- 
ther and daughter. He fled before 
this strange, incomprehensible pair 
could turn on him. 

“Don’t be silly,” old Simeon said 
indignantly. “You can’t get vertigo 
in space. Everything’s up.” 

Sally shook her finger at him. “No 
evasions, please.” 

He cleared his throat. “Har- 
rumph! I’m going to Planets. A 
business deal, my dear. Something 
that came up suddenly.” 

“A business deal?” she echoed 
meaningly. “Now confess!” 

“Yes, a business deal!” he returned 
heatedly. “And furthermore — ” He 
stopped short. He glared. “Never 
mind about me. What the ding-ding 
about you?” 

She patted his cheek. “I’m on the 
same business deal that you are, 
most reverend parent. Only I bet 
I thought of it first.” 

Then the humor of it struck them 
simultaneously, and they laughed 
until the tears came and their voices 
were wesk. 

“We’re both dadgusted fools,” 
cried Simeon. “Only I’m the older 
one. Very well, I’ll talk to that up- 
pity snapperwhipper. But first I’m 
going to take all his ill-gotten gains 
away from him. He needs taking 
down a peg; otherwise you’ll find 
there’ll be no living with him.” 

“I still bet on him, Dad. I have 



JURISDICTION 



15 



an idea he won't be so easy to take 
down.” 

“That remains to be seen,” Sim- 
eon said grimly. “The first time he 
just caught me off guard.” 

Sally pressed the buzzer. The 
purser appeared, haggard, defeated. 

“Move my bag in here,” she or- 
dered. “Into the bedchamber next 
the pool.” 

“Y-yes, Miss Kenton. Y-yes, Mr. 
Kenton. I didn’t know" — ” 

“And why didn’t you know?” 
yelled Simeon. But the purser had 
fled again. 

They didn’t find Kerry Dale at 
Planets. In the twelve days of their 
journey to that roaring boomtown 
on the edge of the Asteroid Belt the 
bird had flown the coop. Flustered 
officials scurried to bring the mighty 
Simeon Kenton information. 
“Young Kerry Dale? Yes, sir, he 
blasted off four Earth-days be- 
fore. In what? Why . . . uh . . . 
seems like the young fellow" had 
bought himself an old tramp 
freighter and fitted it out for salvage 
operations. Had incorporated him- 
self, in fact, under the laws of Vesta. 
Mighty flexible and generous, the 
Vestan corporation laws, sir. Noth- 
ing like those of Earth and Mars. 
Initial fees nominal, sir, and the 
taxes are practically nothing.” The 
official permitted himself a respect- 
ful w ink. “We don’t believe in pes- 
tering business. Nothing paternal 
about us — ha, ha. If Mr. Kenton 
would care to look at the advantages 
of transferring legal title to Vesta, 
we’d be most happy to discuss — ” 
“Stop your infernal chattering,” 
roared Simeon. “I don’t give a tail- 
ringed hoot about your silly laws. 
I’m •'.slcing simple questions and I 
want simple answers.” 

“Y-yes, sir,” stammered the fright- 
ened official. Old Fireball certainly 



lived up to his reputation. 

“Where did he go to?” 

The records came out tremblingly. 
Long nose buried into the docu- 
ments, lifted. “N-no destination, 
sir. just cruising through the As- 
teroid Belt. Under the articles of 
incorporation. Space Salvage, Inc., 
does not have to file the port of call 
of its vessel at the time of blasting 
off. Hm-m-m! A very peculiar 
charter, sir. There are lots of clauses 
in it I’ve never seen before. We’re 
pretty free and easy about those 
things, but not that much. I’m sur- 
prised our laws experts passed it .” 

“You don’t know Mr. Kerry 
Dale,” smiled Sally. 

The Kentons went back to their 
hotel — the single good one in the 
rushing, roaring, inclosed city of 
Planets. 

“Har-rumph!” observed old Sim- 
eon. “We seem to have come on a 
wild-goose chase. Salvage, indeed! 
Piracy, more likely. He’ll starve to 
death trying to find salvage work 
from here to Jupiter. There ain’t 
many ships out and most o’ them’s 
mine. And my captains just don’t 
let their ships break dow r n. They 
know better. Oh, well, a fool and his 
ill-gotten gains’re soon parted. We 
might as well go home, child.” 

Sally’s eyes felt queer and blurry. 
What was the matter w"ith her? 
Here she was acting like any silly 
schoolgirl; literally throwing herself 
at the head of a young man whom 
she had seen only once and who 
didn’t care a hoot about her. She 
had sent him a spacegram and he 
hadn’t even had the decency to ac- 
knowledge it. She had tossed de- 
corum to the winds of space and 
rocketed to Planets and he was gone. 
Her father w T as right! He was a 
fool; an egoistic, self-centered fool. 
She’d show him! She’d go right 
back and forget — 






ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“We were on survey — they came down with weap- 
ons. They had us cold, and we had to give up — ” 




JURISDICTION 



IT 



“I’m staying here. Dad,” she said 
aloud, miserably aware of her il- 
logic. 

“You’re a rubble-dyed idiot, 
daughter,” snorted Simeon. “And if 
you want to make a blasted show of 
yourself, go ahead. As for me, I’m 
going—” 

They were moving across the soft- 
padded lobby of the hotel. A man 
was registering at the scanning 
booth. The scanner registered his 
picture and other pertinent data and 
transferred it to the photoelectric 
cells guarding the panel of the room 
to which he had been assigned. 

He turned as they came up. His 
eyes wavered on the Kentons, smiled 
palely and slid past them. 

Simeon stopped short. “Jericho 
Foote!” 

Explosive contempt seared his 
voice. “What the devil is a slimy 
Venusian swamp snake like yourself 
doing out here in Planets?” 

Jericho Foote, President of Mam- 
moth Exploitations and old Simeon’s 
chief rival, blinked at him sideways. 
He never looked any man straight 
in the face. His black hair was 
smoothed sleekly over a low fore- 
head. His nose was pinched and 
brief, his lips bloodless and thin. His 
smile went underground and his face 
darkened. 

“Some day I’ll have the law on 
you for your slanderous tongue, 
Kenton,” he scowled. 

“Hun to the law and be damned! 
I asked you a question.” 

“It’s none of your business,” 
snapped Foote and went hastily past 
them. 

Sally stared thoughtfully after 
him. “He must have come on the 
Erebus with us. In secret, too. His 
name wasn’t on the passenger list 
and he kept to his quarters. Oh, 
Dad; maybe my hunch was right. 
Maybe when you turned Kerry Dale 



down he teamed up with Foote.” 

“Then he teamed up with a skulk- 
ing leohippus,” growled Simeon. 
He began to walk quickly toward the 
scanning booth. 

“What are you going to do?” 

“Har-rumph! Register, of course. 
When skullduggery’s afoot, Simeon 
Kenton’s not the man to run away. 
Come on, Sally.” 

The misnamed Flash rolled and 
wallowed in space and made loud, 
complaining noises every time the 
rockets jetted. It was a tub, rusty 
and dingy with long years of service, 
and the odors of suspicious freights 
clung to the interior in spite of thor- 
ough scrubbings. The tubes were 
out of line and gave a wabbling mo- 
tion. The struts quivered and 
groaned. The motors pounded and 
clanked unceasingly. The heavens 
gyrated in sympathy and danced 
little, erratic jigs every time Kerry 
Dale glued his eyes to the observa- 
tion telescope. 

Yet he was inordinately proud of 
his craft; as proud as if she had been 
a swift, sleek racer capable of a thou- 
sand miles a second. He owned her 
— every rusted bolt of her; every 
squeak and rattle. He was no longer 
a penniless young lawyer out of a 
job; he was a man with vested prop- 
erty rights; President and total 
Board of Directors of Space Salv- 
age, Inc. True, he had sunk prac- 
tically every cent he had in this old 
scow, and business so far had been 
exactly nil. That didn’t matter. 
Something was bound to turn up. 
His nimble wits would see to that. 
Good Lord — the Asteroid Belt was 
full of opportunities. If it wouldn’t 
be one thing, it would be another. 
He had drawn his charter with in- 
finite care. There were dozens of 
vague, rambling clauses in it that 
had meant nothing to the law ex- 



18 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



perts of the Vestan Filing Bureau; 
but which in a pinch could cover 
practically any contingency. He 
could conduct salvage operations, 
own and operate mines, take title to 
stray asteroids, barter, trade with 
and sell to any natives he might find 
on the several planets and satellites, 
and in general, as he had thought- 
fully inserted, “do any and all things 
which a natural person might do, 
not contrary to law.” 

Which, as Jem admiringly ob- 
served, practically gave Kerry the 
right to commit murder — in his cor- 
porate entity, of course. 

Jem was his second in command. 
He had a last name — it appeared on 
articled indentures, on certain po- 
lice records scattered over space — 
but none of his intimates knew what 
it was. Everyone called him Jem 
and nothing else. When Kerry had 
quit his menial labors as cargo wres- 
tler on the Flying Meteor, a Kenton 
freighter, because of a certain gen- 
eral release he had cannily extracted 
from Old Fireball, Jem, who had 
been his foreman and superior, had 
quit with him. Even in the hold of 
the Flying Meteor Jem had humbly 
admitted Kerry’s superiority, and he 
had jumped at the chance to throw 
in his fortunes with the brilliant, re- 
sourceful young lawyer. 

Right now, however, Jem was a 
bit doubtful of the wisdom of his 
course. He had dropped a good job, 
with a steady, assured income and 
prospects of promotion, for a hare- 
brained, crazy adventure. He 
wasn’t accustomed to spaceships 
that rolled as though they were old- 
fashioned watercraft plunging 
through stormy seas. It made him 
space-sick. And every time the 
rusted plates squeaked and com- 
plained, he looked involuntarily 
around for the nearest safety boat. 

“Besides,” he told Kerry, con- 



tinuing his growsing monologue, 
“where’re we getting at? Nowhere, 
says I.” He stared resentfully out 
at the wabbly heavens. “We’ve 
scooted out o’ the reg’lar lanes o’ the 
Asteroid Belt. We ain’t even head- 
in’ toward Jupeeter. If you could 
hold this blamed tub steady for half 
a minute, you’d see Jupeeter way 
the hell an’ gone over to the right.” 

“Right!” Kerry agreed cheerfully. 
“If we’re looking for salvage, we’ve 
got to keep away from the regular 
space lanes. The big outfits have 
their own patrol boats there. Ken- 
ton and Mammoth and Interworld 
and the rest. There’re no pickings 
for us in there. But out here, if a 
ship gets into trouble, it would take 
weeks to raise up help, and that’s 
where we come in.” 

“Yeah!” grumbled Jem, squinting 
at the solitudes that surrounded 
them outside the glassite observa- 
tion post. “ If there was a ship, and 
ij she was in trouble. We ain’t seen 
or raised another boat in these God- 
forsaken wastes for over a week.” 

The Flash shifted course and 
drove forward like a slightly inde- 
cisive corkscrew. The starboard 
rockets thundered and drew pro- 
testing cries from the very bowels of 
the craft. Jem winced and a terri- 
ble thought grew on him. “Say-y-y! 
That there thing works both ways.” 

“What do you mean?” 

“About this here salvage business. 
S’pose toe bust down. And I ain’t 
saying it ain’t mighty likely. Who’s 
gonna save us?” 

Kerry grinned. “Let’s not worry 
about that until it happens. The 
Flash is fundamentally sound. Un- 
derneath her rust and creaky joints 
she’s got a heart of gold. She’ll out- 
live a hundred fancier, shinier ships.” 

But as the Flash drove on and on, 
far beyond the usual lanes, Kerry be- 



JURISDICTION 



19 



gan to grow anxious. The hurtling, 
crisscrossing asteroids became fewer 
and fewer. Mars was a tiny point 
of light behind and Jupiter itself lost 
magnitude on the right. They were 
driving at an angle of sixty degrees 
to that giant planet. Space infolded 
them, huge, unfathomable, frighten- 
ing. 

Sparks sat patiently at the open 
visorscreen, waiting for messages 
that never came. The limited range 
of their apparatus forbade the re- 
ception of signals from the distant 
traveled courses; and not even a 
stutter came in from the fifty-mil- 
lion-mile radius of effective reach. 
They had this sector of space, seem- 
ingly, all to themselves. 

For the hundredth time Kerry 
took out a well-thumbed sheaf of 
three spacegrams, reread them. He 
always read them in the same order. 
It was a bit of a ritual. 

The first was the offer from Sim- 
eon Kenton to rehire him, with the 
tempting bait of eventual Chief of 
Legal Department hinted at. It was 
a most satisfying spacegram, even 
though he had turned down the offer. 
So Old Fireball, who hadn’t even 
known of his existence while he had 
slaved loyally as an obscure member 
of the legal staff of Kenton Space 
Enterprises, now was sufficiently 
aware of his worth to make him a 
flattering proposal. And all because 
he had hornswoggled the old man 
with his tricky knowledge of the law. 

The second spacegram was also 
from old Simeon. This was the yelp- 
ing insult to his own refusal. He 
grinned over it. He could read the 
wounded, incredulous vanity under 
the violent phrases. The man of 
power had called him impudent. 
■Well, he had been impudent. De- 
liberately so. The memory of that 
year of unrewarded toil still rankled, 
and the cavalier treatment he had 

AST— 2h 



received when he had asked for a 
raise. He’d never be subordinate 
again; to Kenton or to anyone else. 
They’d treat him as an equal or he’d 
go on his own. And he preferred to 
be on his own. A lone wolf, pitting 
his wits and skill against the men of 
power and money. They had sought 
to use his wits and skill at law for 
their own benefit. They had 
thought to suck him dry and then 
cast him aside. Well, he’d show 
them. He’d — 

He paused over the third space- 
gram. Slowly he read it, though he 
knew every letter of it by heart. 
“Kerry Dale, Planets, Vesta,” it 
read. “Congratulations. Keep up 
the good work!” And the signature 
was Sally Kenton! 

He remembered only too clearly 
the stupefaction with which he had 
received it. He had just mulcted her 
father out of a cool hundred thou- 
sand. The ordinary daughter would 
have been furious at the man who 
had done it. He had met her only 
once, and then they hadn’t spoken 
to each other. He had been too 
busy shaking her father and telling 
him things. He hadn’t even known 
she was Sally Kenton, the toast of 
two worlds and the darling of the 
broadcasters. 

Yet she had sent him this extraor- 
dinary congratulation. Why? His 
heart gave a great bound — and sub- 
sided. He became angry with him- 
self. He was a fool to believe she 
meant it; that she had a certain per- 
sonal interest in him. How could 
she? There was something else be- 
hind it. Something devious; some- 
thing to her father’s interest. Well, 
if they thought they could overreach 
him, they were both mightily mis- 
taken. 

Nevertheless he placed that par- 
ticular spacegram very gently back 
in his pocket, taking care not to 



20 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



crease or dirty it in any way. 

He went down into the radio 
room. Jem was lounging there, look- 
ing glum, talking to Sparks. All ra- 
dio men ran to a pattern. They were 
slight • and wiry and dried-out and 
birdlike in the brightness of their 
eyes and the quickness of their 
movements. This particular Sparks 
was no exception. 

“How’re they coming?” Kerry 
greeted. 

Sparks shook his head with rapid 
denial. “Nary a thing, Mr. Dale. 
Not even a code message from some 
lovesick matey to the gal he left be- 
hind in every port o’ call. Not a 
whisper. If I didn’t check the tubes 
regular, I’d think the blamed ma- 
chine was out o’ kilter.” 

“I say we oughta turn back,” de- 
clared Jem vehemently. “This here 
salvage business ain’t what it’s 
cracked up to be.” 

“Maybe not,” agreed Kerry. “But 
I was thinking of other fish to fry.” 
“What?” they chorused. 

Kerry hesitated. “Well, I had 
wanted to keep the idea to myself 
until something turned up.” He 
grinned wryly. “But nothing’s 
turned up, so it doesn’t matter now.” 
“Ain’t even turned up a space 
mirage,” grunted Jem. 

“The regular asteroid lanes are 
pretty well covered by now,” ex- 
plained Kerry. “Even bits of debris 
not more than a few yards in diame- 
ter are staked out, filed and ex- 
ploited. The first space rush is over. 
The original prospectors are drink- 
ing away their gains or they’re dead; 
the big outfits moved in and took 
them over and put exploration on a 
systematic, fine-comb basis. But 
this patch of space hasn’t been gone 
over much. I thought perhaps we’d 
run into a find. Something like that 
nickel-iron asteroid that brought 



Kenton almost six millions in cash.” 

“So that’s it, huh?” snorted Jem 
disgustedly. “We come out here 
wild-goosing for treasure. That’s 
even wuss than hunting for dis- 
tressed ships to salvage where there 
ain’t no ships. Sometimes a boat 
does go off course and gets into trou- 
ble. But y’oughta knowed there 
ain’t any asteroids out in this part 
o’ space. There’s the reg’lar belt and 
there’s the Trojan belt way the hell 
an’ gone off to one side, what belongs 
to Jupeeter. But this here place 
where we’re now ain’t neither one 
nor tother.” 

“So I’m finding out,” Kerry ad- 
mitted. He shrugged his shoulders. 
“Well, I can’t be blamed for trying. 
Especially when I got word there 
was a Kenton ship nosing around 
these parts looking for the same 
thing I was.” 

“What?” they both yelled. “A 
Kenton ship?” 

“How d’you know?” demanded 
Sparks. “They keep those explora- 
tion boats pretty quiet.” 

“Oh,” said Kerry airily, “a few 
drinks of jrulla back on Planets and 
a second mate who’d never drunk it 
before. Just before he passed out 
he said something about blasting off 
the next day under sealed orders. 
Seems a half-crazed prospector had 
been picked up in midspace by a 
Kenton ship. He died before they 
came in to port and the captain 
screened Old Fireball for orders. 
When Kenton heard what the rav- 
ings had been about, he told the 
captain to dump the body into space 
and keep quiet.” 

“The old man’s still on his toes.” 
Jem’s tone was admiring. “He don’t 
let nothing slip by.” 

Kerry said dismally, “I gave them 
a day’s start, thinking I could keep 
them in sight. But they were speed- 
ier than I thought. Oh, well, it 



JURISDICTION 



21 



doesn't matter. I suppose they 
didn’t find anything, either. They 
must have turned back.” 

“Like we should.” 

“Might as well, Jem. We’re be- 
ginning to run short on fuel and pro- 
visions. Better tell the engineer — ” 
“Hey, what’s that?” yelled Sparks 
suddenly. 

A faint wisp of sound wavered 
from the open screen; and a pale 
shadow danced like a quaking aspen 
over the white expanse. 

“It’s a message,” cried Kerry ex- 
citedly. “Step up the power.” 

Sparks stepped up the power, but 
neither sound nor shadow gained in 
clarity. 

“Hell!” said Sparks, disgusted. 
“It’s a private wave length. Noth- 
ing for us.” 

“That’s what you think,” retorted 
Kerry. “Can’t you get on that 
length?” 

“I could; but I ain’t.” 

“Why not?” < 

“It’s against the law to listen in on 
private lengths. Says so in the regu- 
lations. I got ’em right here.” 
“Suppose as owner 1 order you 
to.” 

“Still wouldn’t do it, Mr. Dale,” 
Sparks answered doggedly. “It’d 
be worth my license. And besides, I 
don’t aim to go breaking no laws.” 
Kerry grinned approval. “Good 
for you, Sparks. Glad to hear you 
talk that way. As a lawyer I don’t 
believe in breaking laws. But there’s 
no law against interpreting the law 
so it swings to your side.” 

“The rule about listening in is 
plain’s can be,” insisted Sparks. 
“There never was no getting round 
it.” 

“Oh, no? On the 6th day of No- 
vember, 2273, Chief Justice Clark, 
sitting in the Supreme Court of Judi- 
cature for the Planetary District of 



the Moon, handed down a unani- 
mous decision in the case of Berry, 
plaintiff-appellee, versus Opp, de- 
fendant-appellant, covering an ex- 
actly similar situation. 

“ ‘The law,’ he wrote, ‘is not an 
inelastic instrument. It may be 
stretched on occasion to mete out 
substantial justice in cases where the 
march of time or the failure of the 
legislature to provide for all contin- 
gencies has vitiated the plain intent 
of the specific provisions. The ap- 
peal in the instant case comes within 
the broad equities of such interpre- 
tation. It is true that Section 348 
of the Space Code is specific in its 
wording and provides for no excep- 
tions. But it must be asked, what 
was the intent of the Interplanetary 
Commission? Obviously to safe- 
guard individuals and corporations 
from any encroachment on the right 
of privacy. A private wave length, 
officially registered, is as much a pri- 
vate right, to be held free from inter- 
ference, as any primitive telephone 
wire or stamped and sealed letter. 

Kerry took a breath and plunged 
on while his audience of two just 
goggled. 

“ ‘Nevertheless,’ ” he continued 
quoting, “ ‘consider the facts. The 
appellee’s ship was in distress on the 
Earth-Moon run. A leak had de- 
veloped. It was losing air fast. The 
ship operator sent out a signal of 
distress. The operator, in his ex- 
citement, sent it on the private 
length assigned to the appellee, in- 
stead of on the standard wave. The 
defendant-appellant, also on the 
Earth-Moon run, noted through his 
telescope the erratic course of the 
appellee’s ship. He heard the faint 
buzz of the private message. As- 
suming that an emergency had 
arisen, and acting in good faith, he 
tuned in on the private length. He 
heard the call for help and hurried 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



to the rescue. He saved the ship 
and saved its crew from death by 
asphyxiation. 

“ ‘Now the plaintiff, in defiance of 
all gratitude, sues the defendant for 
infringement of Section 348. Judi- 
cial notice may be taken by this 
Court that the purpose of the plain- 
tiff is to offset a pending claim for 
salvage on the part of the defendant. 
The plaintiff does not come into 
court with clean hands. The Legis- 
lative never intended this section to 
cover such a manifest perversion of 
justice. It is plain that the question 
of good faith must be involved. The 
defendant acted in good faith. The 
judgment of the lower Court in favor 
of the plaintiff-appellee must accord- 
ingly be reversed, and judgment ren- 
dered for the defendant-appellant, 
and costs assessed in his favor in the 
lower Court and on appeal.’ ” 

Kerry took another breath. “You 
will find the decision reported in the 
Interplanetary Reporter, Volume 
991, Pages 462 to 478 inclusive.” 
Sparks gulped. “You ain’t rib- 
bing me, sir?” 

“If Mr. Dale tells it to you,” Jem 
said severely, “it’s so, down to the 
last dotting o’ the i’s.” 

“But . . . but I ain’t never heal’d 
o’ that,” Sparks still protested, “and 
according to what you say, that 
there judge wrote that more’n a 
hundred years ago.” 

“Sure it’s an old case, and of 
course you never heard of it. Even 
among lawyers very few have. The 
precise matter just never happened 
to come up again. But it’s there, 
and it’s law. It’s never been over- 
ruled.” 

Sparks shook his head. “I still 
don’t see — ” 

“The whole point is one of good 
faith. We hear a call out in the veri- 
table wilds of space. There 
shouldn’t even be a ship out here. 



Suppose, say we, that ship’s in trou- 
ble. Suppose the operator lost his 
head, the same as the fellow' did in 
that old case of Berry versus Opp. 
We listen in, just to make sure. All 
in good faith. After w'e’ve heard 
enough to decide we made a mistake, 
that he’s not in trouble, we cut off.” 
A wide grin split Jem’s face. “And 
meanwhile we can’t help it if we 
heard things. Kerry Dale, you’ve 
got a head on your shoulders.” 
“We-ell!” said Sparks, half con- 
vinced. 

“Hurry up!” Kerry was getting 
impatient. “They’ll be off the waves 
before you get around to it.” 

Five minutes later Sparks w r as 
wiping his brow. “Damned if it 
ain't a distress call,” he said huskily. 
“That’s the Flying Meteor, Captain 
Ball commanding ” 

“Holy cats!” exclaimed Jem. “My 
old ship! What’s Ball doing all the 
way out here?” 

“Our old ship,” corrected Kerry. 
His face wore a thoughtful frown. 
“Iron Pants Ball doesn’t lose his 
head so easily. He’s trying to raise 
Planets or some other Kenton ship 
instead of sending out a general call. 
Why?” 

“He ain’t even sending on his 
regular equipment,” said Sparks. 
“He’s using an assembled rig. I can 
tell from the power. Something hap- 
pened to his sending outfit. 
Smashed. And he’s drifting. Fuel 
tanks clean. He ain’t saying what’s 
happened. Funny!” 

“Damn funny!” nodded Kerry. 
“Well, boys, this is obviously a job 
for us; even though Ball isn’t asking. 
Have you got his position?” 

“Yeah. Shall I contact him and 
tell him we’re coming?” 

“No. I want to surprise him.” 
Jem chuckled. “And what a sur- 
prise! He’ll be fit to bust when he 
sees us tw'o.” 



JURISDICTION 



S3 



But Kerry’s frown had deepened. 

“Get the engineer to shove on full 
speed ahead, Jem,” was all he said. 

It took the better part of a day, 
Earth time, to make the run. The 
Flash was no speed demon, and she 
complained and whined and mut- 
tered vociferously at the treatment 
she was being accorded. But Kerry 
kept pushing her grimly. His 
thoughts he kept to himself. 

The Flying Meteor had stopped 
sending. “Used up their emergency 
batteries,” explained Sparks. 

Space was quiet, except for the 
roar of their own tubes. The detec- 
tors picked up a small asteroid, too 
small and too distant as yet for sight 
in the electro scanners. It seemed 
about equidistant from the crippled 
ship and their own. The rest of 
space was swept clean. Nothing for 
a hundred million miles. 

The Flying Meteor, when it hove 
into sight, was drifting helplessly. 
Slowly, at less than a mile a second; 
silent, its hull dim in the faint re- 
flection from a far-off sun. 

The Flash came up fast. Kerry 
opened the screen, put through a 
call. 

No answer. 

Sparks whistled. “They haven’t 
a drop of juice left. Not even for 
local reception. I never heard of 
that happening before. There’s 
something screwy.” 

But Kerry was already pouring his 
long legs into a space suit. 

"Hurry, Jem,” he said. “Get into 
yours. You and I are going visit- 
ing.” 

More than thirty precious minutes 
were consumed in maneuvering into 
position and cutting down speed to 
get alongside. The magnetic trac- 
tors went into action. The two ships 
drifted together. There was a slight 
bump, and the plates gripped. 



Kerry and Jem clumped into the 
air chamber, closed the lock behind 
them, slid open the outer port. Jem 
tapped out the Space Code signal on 
the hull of the Flying Meteor. For 
a moment there was no answer. 

“I hope they’re not dead,” he said 
with sudden anxiety. “They used to 
be my shipmates. There was — ” 

Then the taps came. “Stand by! 
We’re opening. Manual power. No 
juice left.” 

Helmeted, rubber-sheathed men 
met other spacesuited individuals. 
Air whooshed between. Then they 
were in Captain Ball’s quarters, 
shrugging out of unwieldy outfits, 
shutting out with swift door-closing 
the staring, haggard crew. 

“I thought my number was up 
this time,” came Ball’s muffled voice 
as he lifted his helmet. “If your 
ship hadn’t providentially come 
up-—” He choked, stared. 

“You, Jem! Kerry Dale, you!” 

Jem’s fingers touched his forehead 
from long habit. “Yes, sir.” Then 
he grinned. “Sort of a surprise, 
ain’t it. Captain Ball?” 

Kerry said: “It’s a small Uni- 

verse, isn’t it? You used to be on 
the Earth-Belt run; and we were 
fooling around Planets. Yet here we 
meet almost beyond Jupiter. Luck- 
ily for you, as it turns out. We’re in 
the salvage business, you know. 
Jem and I.” 

Ball’s eyes narrowed. “The coin- 
cidence is too damn pat. I’ve been 
running into too many coincidences 
as it is.” 

“This one happens to be a lucky 
coincidence, captain.” Kerry pointed 
out. “You do need salvage, don’t 
you?” 

Ball grimaced. “Can’t help my- 
self. My fine traps are bone-dry, 
my radio’s twisted junk. My 
emergency batteries smashed. If I 
hadn’t had one stowed away un- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



fl 

noticed among the medical supplies, 
I couldn’t even have — ” He stopped 
suddenly. 

“You were saying?” Kerry mur- 
mured. 

“Nothing.” His face tightened. 
“If you could let me have four drums 
of fuel and half a dozen spare bat- 
teries, so I can get started toward 
Planets and raise headquarters 
there, Kenton Space Enterprises will 
pay you well.” 

“You forget,” Kerry said softly, 
“we’re in the salvage business; not a 
refueling station.” 

“Damn it, man! You’ll get your 
salvage fees. One third of the ship’s 
value, isn’t it? Mr. Kenton will pay, 
and gladly. I’ll sign papers. Only 
give me the stuff — ” 

“One third of the cargo, too.” 

“All right. AH right. But hurry 
and — ” 

So there was nothing of value in 
the cargo, thought Kerry. Then why 
this all-fired hurry? He shook his 
head. 

“Sorry, captain. The laws of sal- 
vage are funny that way. No tow- 
ing; no salvage. Read Section 21, 
Subdivision 6 — ” 

“You’re too damn technical. You 
know as well as I that if I say so, 
Kenton will back me up, law or no 
law.” 

“Still no sale.” 

Ball scowled. “Blast you. Dale, 
have it your way then. Haul me 
back all the way to Planets. Only 
let me use your radio. I want to 
notify my base as to what’s hap- 
pened.” 

“Do you intend to use code, by 
any chance?” inquired Kerry. 

The captain stared. “Naturally.” 

“Then still no sale. I have a strict 
rule on board my ship. No private 
wave lengths or private codes may 
be used on my instruments.” He 



winked surreptitiously to Jem. 
“Haven’t I, Jem?” 

That worthy looked bewildered. 
“Huh? Oh, sure . . . sure! Uh . . . 
our Sparks, he's a funny guy that- 
away.” 

“Ball said coldly: “You fellows 
aren’t talking to a blasted landsman . 
Stop the nonsense and get down to 
brass tacks. What’s your game?” 
Kerry was equally cold and crisp. 
“That works both ways. What’s 
your game. Captain Ball?” 

“This is ridiculous!” 

“Oh, it is, is it? Let me run over 
a few things with you. The Flying 
Meteor was taken off its regular run 
and blasted off under sealed orders. 
I find it adrift in a sector of space 
where no one ever goes.” 

“So you followed me, eh?” 

Kerry ignored that. He ticked off 
his points like relentless hammer 
blows. “I repeat, I find you adrift. 
Your fuel is gone; your radio 
smashed. You might possibly have 
run out of fuel, though you’re too 
good an officer to have permitted 
that. But you didn’t smash your 
own radio. Someone else did that 
for you. If it was a highjacker, 
you’d have made no bones about 
telling us. Yet you’re holding out 
on us. Why?” 

Ball’s face did not change so much 
as a muscle. It was a well-schooled 
face. “You’re crazy!” he said. 

Kerry shrugged. “All right, if 
that’s the way you want it.” He 
turned to Jem. “Come on, Jem. 
Captain Ball obviously doesn’t wish 
for our assistance. Let’s get back 
to the Flash. I want to investigate 
that asteroid that showed up on our 
detectors, anyway. Since we don’t 
have to tow this tub — ” 

Ball lost his impassivity. “You 
mean you’re going to let us drift out 
here like trapped animals?” 



JURISDICTION 



■'5 



Kerry pretended astonishment. 
“Isn’t that what you wanted? I 
thought it was, since you refuse to 
co-operate.” 

“You win, and be damned to you!” 
the captain said bitterly. “If there 
was any chance of getting through, 
T’d see you in hell first. But I can’t 
let my men die like rats; and further- 
more, it doesn't matter, anyway. 
They've got a good three-day start 
and they’ve got a fast ship. Faster 
than mine; and certainly faster than 
yours.” 

“Ah!” said Kerry. “That’s bet- 
ter. Now start from the beginning.” 
Ball took a deep breath. “Well, 
we were hunting for something. On 
a tip.” 

“Skip that part,” Kerry advised. 
“I know about it. Did you find it; 
and what happened then?” 

The captain stared. “Damn!” he 
said w r ith feeling. “And we thought 
we were very secret about it. That 
makes two at least who knew.” 
“The other being — ” 

“Jericho Foote, the louse! Y 7 ou 
know — Mammoth Exploitations.’’ 
“Ah!” said Kerry again. “I know. 
The pot’s beginning to boil. He fol- 
lowed you, too?” 

“Not that swamp snake! He’s too 
cunning to get tangled up directly. 
He hired an outfit; one of those 
that’s always hanging around the 
Belt looking for trouble. I didn’t 
know they were following until I 
located the asteroid. They kept out 
of range, using their detectors. They 
had extra-powerful ones.” 

“That asteroid you were hunt- 
ing,” said Kerry, “wouldn’t by the 
merest chance be the one 1 just 
picked up in my detectors.” 

Ball glowered. “I suppose so. 
There isn’t another one around this 
side of Jupiter.” 

“And there you found what you 
were after?” 



The captain hesitated. 

“You might as well tell me. 1 m 
going to take a look-see anyway.” 
Ball shrugged. “The whole Uni- 
verse might as well know now. That 
poor, crazed prospector was right. 
It isn’t a big one — not oVer five 
miles across — but she’s just loaded 
with thermatite.” 

“Thermatite!” Kerry and Jem 
looked swiftly at each other. “What 
percentage alloy?” 

“No percentage. It’s the pure 
thing. And a vein as thick as a 
spaceship. There’s been nothing like 
it found in the System. I think this 
asteroid must have come from out- 
side. The head of a comet, possibly, 
caught by Jupiter.” 

Kerry whistled softly. Therma- 
tite was almost pure energy. It 
would undergo atomic disintegra- 
tion without giving off gamma rays 
— hence could be used in very cheap, 
very light portable atomic engines 
that required no shielding. But 
what thermatite had so far been 
discovered was so alloyed with inert 
materials that the expense of ex- 
traction practically made up the dif- 
ference, and transmuters couldn't 
afford to make it. A vein of pure 
thermatite meant a sizable fortune 
to the discoverer. 

“What happened then?” 

Dark anger lowered in the cap- 
tain’s face. “We had just staked 
out our claim when that damned 
pirate came up. We didn’t have a 
chance. Practically my whole crew 
was out on the asteroid, unarmed; 
and they had a torpedo gun trained 
on us. There wasn’t a thing we 
could do but curse and watch. They 
erased our monuments, raised their 
own; took over whatever thermatite 
we had already mined, emptied our 
fuel tanks, smashed our radio, and 
set us adrift.” 

“The dirty highjackers!” growled 



m 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



Jem. “They might as well have 
murdered you all and been done 
with it.” 

“Oh, no!” Ball said sarcastically. 
“They said as soon as they’d filed 
the claim properly in their names 
they’d report us adrift and have 
Kenton send a rescue ship out for 
us.” 

“By which time you’d be dead, if 
they reported you,” Kerry said 
grimly. “This Foote is a rat!” 
“That’s the layout. That’s why 
I want to use your radio. I want 
to raise Planets and have them ar- 
rested before they file.” 

Kerry shook his head. “It would 
be your w T ord against theirs. They 
would claim you tried to highjack 
them. Besides, my radio has only a 
fifty-million-mile radius. By the 
time we’d get that close they’d al- 
ready have filed.” 

The captain swore. He managed 
to concentrate a good deal into a few 
words. Jem just glowered. 

Kerry thought a moment. 

“You took enough observations to 
calculate the asteroid’s orbital ele- 
ments?” 

“Naturally. Otherwise how would 
we be able to find her again; or file 
on her? It’s quite an eccentric orbit, 
as you’d suspect from finding her all 
the way out here. I’ve never run 
into any quite like it before.” 

Kerry’s eyes gleamed suddenly. 
“Hm-m-m! Mind if I look at your 
figures?” 

“Damned if I know why you want 
to waste your time. We ought to 
get started for Planets right away.” 
Ball’s fists clenched. “I want to lay 
hands on a few people.” 

“There’ll be no delay. Jem, get 
the tractors hitched up properly for 
towing. I’ll be with you in a few 
minutes.” 



It was with reluctance that Ball 
brought out his charts. But there 
was nothing he could do about it. 
Kerry had the whip hand. 

Kerry studied the charts in si- 
lence, made some rapid calculations. 
When he finally looked up his face 
was wiped clean of all emotion. 

“I’m going to make you a proposi- 
tion, Ball.” 

“What is it?” 

“About the salvage. The Flying 
Meteor is a heavy boat as well as an 
expensive one. Towing her won’t do 
my tractors or my hull any good. 
It’s worth every bit of the salvage 
money. And that’s going to run 
high. One third of your ship’s value, 
and you know what that amounts 
to.” 

The captain grimaced. “What can 
I do? I’m in a tight spot.” 

Kerry stared up at the ceiling. 
“You’ve lost out on the asteroid. 
Foote’s gang will file, and then as- 
sign to him. He’s in the clear. He’ll 
show a check in payment and claim 
his rights as an innocent purchaser 
for value. Whatever proceeding you 
might have against the highjackers 
would be lost against him. You 
couldn’t prove in a court of law that 
they were his men?” 

“N-no,” Ball admitted. “I sup- 
pose not. I damn well know it, but 
I couldn’t prove it.” 

“Exactly. And by the time we 
get back, they’ll have vanished. 
There’re plenty of hide-outs among 
the asteroids where they can hole up 
until the storm blows over.” 

“What are you driving at?” 

Kerry met his gaze. “This. I’m 
going to do you a favor; and Old 
Fireball, your boss, a favor. Though 
God knows I have no reason to waste 
favors on him. I’m going to tow you 
to port free, gratis, and waive the 
salvage charges.” 



JURISDICTION 



27 



Ball came halfway out of his chair, 
“What?” 

“In return for something, natu- 
rally. There’s got to be considera- 
tion for a bargain, you know; other- 
wise the law holds it to be of no 
effect.” 

Ball sank back. “Ha! I see!” 

“You don’t. All I want is a proper 
assignment from you, as initial dis- 
coverer and authorized agent of 
Kenton Space Enterprises, Unlim- 
ited, of all your right, title and in- 
terest in and to the said asteroid, 
duly described, and of all the appur- 
tenances thereto attached.” 

Suspicion glared in the captain’s 
eye. “You mean you want to take 
an assignment of something that is 
valueless?” 

“I don’t say it’s wholly valueless,” 
Kerry said carefully. “I don’t want 
to misrepresent. I think I can get a 
nuisance value out of the claim. I’m 
a lawyer, you know.” 

“And a good one, captain,” Jem 
chimed in heartily. 

The suspicion died in Ball. He 
even grinned. This Kerry Dale, 
smart as he thought he was, was a 
fool. Giving up substantial salvage 
for a remote possibility. The law 
of filing on newly discovered aster- 
oids was definite. Two steps were 
required. First, setting up the 
proper monuments on the asteroid. 
Second, filing the requisite affidavits 
in the Claims Office of jurisdiction. 
In this case. Planets. One step alone 
was not sufficient. Prior monuments 
meant nothing; the date of filing 
controlled. Well, if Kerry Dale 
wanted to take the chance, who was 
he to stop him! In his mind’s eye. 
Ball could hear old Kenton’s approv- 
ing chuckle. The old man was pretty 
sore over that last trick Dale had 
pulled on him. 

“O. K.,” he said. “Prepare the 
papers, and I’ll sign them.” 



“ After I take a look-see at the 
asteroid. I want to make sure your 
. . . uh . . . eyes didn’t deceive you 
about that thermatite.” 

The captain grunted. “Suspicious, 
hey? Well, I suppose you’re entitled 
to see for yourself.” 

There was no question about the 
thermatite. The quivering glow of 
it was visible a thousand miles away. 
It sparkled and danced with lambent 
flame along a wide streak in the dull, 
stony jaggedness of the tiny wan- 
derer of space. 

“Satisfied now?” demanded Ball. 
The sight of that precious vein which 
was rightfully his by prior discovery 
embittered him all over again. Some 
day he’d get those birds! 

“Looks all right. We’re landing, 
though.” 

“Why?” 

“To reset your monuments. Fil- 
ing’s no good without them, you 
know.” 

Let him have his fun, thought Ball 
sourly. Nuisance value, my eye! 
That skunk, Foote, won’t pay him a 
nickel. 

The ceremony didn’t take long. 
Four metal stakes were driven deep 
into the stone, exactly in the niches 
where Ball’s old ones had been 
ripped out. Then a photograving of 
claim to title was etched deep within 
the area bounded by the stakes. 
Meanwhile, Jem gleefully broke off 
the evidences left by the highjackers. 

“Now,” said Kerry, “we’ll sign 
our documents. Here’s a waiver of 
salvage, properly prepared, wherein 
I agree to tow you into port and to 
accept in full payment thereof your 
assignment of rights in this asteroid. 
Please sign here.” 

For a moment the captain hesi- 
tated. This Kerry Dale was a pretty 
slick fellow. Did he have something 
up his sleeve? Hell, how could he? 



28 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



Sometimes the smartest fellows over- 
reached themselves. With a little 
smile he signed. 

Carefully Kerry folded the assign- 
ment, placed it in his pocket. The 
captain buttoned up his agreement 
with a sigh of satisfaction. “Let’s 
get going,” he said. 

“Right. We start at once, Cap- 
tain Ball. If you’ll get back into the 
Flying Meteor — ” 

On the Flash, Jem said anxiously: 
“I didn’t want to say nothing, Kerry; 
but it ’pears to me you done your- 
self out of some healthy money.” 

Kerry grinned. “So does Ball. 
Well, we’ll see. Meantime, tell the 
engineer to pull away.” He thrust 
a paper into Jem’s hand. “I’ve 
plotted our course. Give these fig- 
ures to him.” 

Jem stared at them. He knew 
something about the elements of 
space navigation. His face showed 
stupefaction. “This here ain’t the 
right — ” he exclaimed. 

Kerry cut him short. “I'm the 
navigation officer on board, not you. 
Please follow orders.” Then, with a 
smile, he patted Jem on the back. 
“Don’t worry. I know what I’m 
doing.” 

Still bewildered, Jem went obedi- 
ently below. 

The lifting rockets spurted. The 
Flash, hitched firmly to the larger 
Flying Meteor , groaned in every 
strut. The tiny asteroid fell away. 
They swung a wide arc in space and 
moved steadily off. The asteroid 
dropped out of sight. 

Kerry settled himself comfortably 
to await the expected explosion. 

It was not long in coming. 

The visorscreen buzzed sharply 
about an hour later. Kerry grinned. 
That would be Captain Ball. He 
had given him a single battery for 
his emergency rig; enough to estab- 
lish communication between the two 



ships; but not nearly enough to raise 
anything outside of a few-thousand- 
miles range. 

He opened the screen. 

The captain’s apoplectic counte- 
nance appeared. “Hey, Dale,” he 
shouted, “where the hell are you go- 
ing?” 

“To port, of course. Where else?” 

“You’re either crazy, or no navi- 
gator! I’ve been watching the way 
we’re heading this last hour. You’ll 
never get to Planets on this course 
in a million years.” 

“Who said anything about Plan- 
ets?” 

Ball choked. “Well, I’ll be— And 
where the hell are you going?” 

“To Ganymede City, Ganymede, 
Sector of Jupiter. What’s wrong 
with that?” 

The captain’s face was purple and 
green. He shook his fist. “What’s 
wrong with that? Nothing, nothing 
except that I want to go to Planets. 
If you don’t turn at once — ” 

“What will happen?” Kerry asked 
softly. 

“I’ll have the law on you! Simeon 
Kenton will have the law on you! 
We’ll break you so hard you’ll never 
be able to pick up the pieces. We’ll 
sue you for damages on the con- 
tract.” 

Kerry composed himself into a 
more comfortable position. “You 
mean that waiver of salvage I just 
signed.” 

“I mean nothing else. You agreed 
to tow me to Planets.” 

“Look at it. If you’ll find Plan- 
ets mentioned once in there, I’ll not 
only turn around but pay you sal- 
vage.” 

“Huh? Well . . . uh . . . maybe it 
isn’t mentioned. That doesn’t mean 
a thing. Any fool would know that’s 
the port. That’s where I came from; 
that’s where you came from.” 

“I agreed to take you to port; and 



JURISDICTION 



29 




"An asteroid’s an asteroid !” Simeon snapped. “ What dif- 
ference does it make?” Dale grinned. “ This one wasn’t.” 



I’m taking you. Maybe you’ve for- 
gotten, or maybe you never knew, 
but the Interplanetary Commission 
itself defined the word ‘port’ in a de- 
cision only about two years ago. It 
was in connection with a salvage 
claim. ‘Port,’ it said, ‘in a contract 



of salvage, was to be construed as 
the nearest port of call to the place 
where the tow was commenced; it 
being understood, however, that the 
said point of entry was properly 
equipped with repair facilities suffi- 
cient to put the disabled tow into 





30 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



spaceworthy condition again. Surely, 
my dear captain, you don’t deny 
that Ganymede City has proper re- 
pair docks? And certainly, if you’d 
look at your charts, you’d notice 
that we’re a good fifty million miles 
closer to Ganymede City than to 
Planets.” 

Kerry put on a reproachful air. 
“Why, if I took you anywhere else 
I’d be guilty of a serious breach of 
contract; and Mr. Kenton would be 
perfectly within his rights in suing 
me." 

“Damn your decisions and legal 
twistings!” Ball roared. “It was un- 
derstood we were to go to Planets. 
Who the hell wants to go to Gany- 
mede?” 

“I do. I have business there. As 
for your understanding, I’m sorry 
you misunderstood. Naturally, if 
you were so keen on Planets you 
should have inserted it in the agree- 
ment.” 

Ball shook his fist again. “I’m 
coming on board — ” 

“Not on my ship,” Kerry an- 
swered cheerfully. “My space lock’s 
jammed. I’m afraid I won’t be able 
to fix it until we get to Ganymede. 
See you there.” 

He reached over and blanked the 
screen on the torrent of language 
that the harassed captain was letting 
loose. 

Within a week they were on 
Ganymede, port of entry for the 
Jovian System, and capital of the 
Sector. Ganymede City was a 
frontier town, rough and sprawling 
and alive with adventurers come to 
seek their fortunes on the outskirts 
of civilization. But Kerry wasted 
no time on its sordid delights. He 
went to the proper officials to trans- 
act the business he had in mind, and 
blasted off for Planets as soon as it 



was completed and his supplies were 
replenished. 

Captain Ball, irascible, vowing 
vengeance, took off a day after him. 
The first thing he had done, after 
being released from tow in the city’s 
drydock, was to give orders to buy 
fuel for his tanks and to repair his 
radio. His next was to hasten to the 
police authorities to swear out a war- 
rant against Kerry for breach of con- 
tract, kidnaping, forcible detainer 
and whatever else he could think of. 

The police sent for Kerry. He 
came smilingly and stated his case. 
He exhibited his waiver; reached 
back of the official to take dowm a 
volume of the Interplanetary Com- 
mission’s decisions, turned unerr- 
ingly to the proper page and showed 
the text to him. The official read, 
looked impressed, and forthwith dis- 
missed the case. 

Ball stalked out, breathing venge- 
ance. He hurried to the office of 
the Intersystem Communications 
System and sent off a long, blister- 
ing spacegram to Simeon Kenton, 
Megalon, Earth. He didn’t know 
Simeon was on Planets. Then he 
rushed back to the drydock and 
lashed the repair men to a more furi- 
ous gait. 

Out in space, Jem said: “ Whew t 
I never saw Captain Ball so mad be- 
fore. He’ll rip the insides of his 
ship getting to Planets ahead of us.” 

“Let him.” Kerry was quite 
placid. “I’m in no hurry.” 

Jem shook his head. He was over 
his depth. There would be plenty of 
grief waiting for them on Vesta. Ball 
was hopping mad; Kenton would be 
hopping mad; and what Kerry had 
gotten out of it, he couldn’t for the 
life of him see. 

Planets rocked with excitement. 
There hadn’t been so much excite- 
ment in that usually turbulent town 



JURISDICTION 



31 



since a section of the roofed inclosure 
had broken half a century before and 
exposed the population to the 
vacuum of space. 

First a rakish craft had come into 
port, bearing all the marks of a long, 
fast journey. Tough-looking eggs 
had disembarked and hurried 
straight to the Claims Office. Filings 
were supposed to be confidential; 
but a clerk told a friend, who in turn 
told another, and within six hours 
the whole town buzzed with the dis- 
covery of a wandering asteroid worth 
a couple of dozen millions. 

Twelve hours later there was more 
news. Jericho Foote had filed an 
assignment of the claim to himself, 
and the strangers had blasted off 
hurriedly without bothering to at- 
tend to the necessary formalities at- 
tending ship departures. The same 
clerk started this bit of information 
rolling also. 

Jericho Foote met reporters with 
a modest air. Yes, he had purchased 
the rights to an asteroid. Well, of 
course, there was supposed to be 
thermatite on it. How much? 
Maybe a couple of millions; it was 
hard to say. Did he know the 
strangers who had discovered it? 
No; never saw them before. But 
they had come to him with the pa- 
pers authenticating their find, and 
some samples. The assay showed 
97.24 percent purity. They seeded 
money in a hurry, and they offered 
the asteroid for sale. Why hadn’t 
they gone to Simeon Kenton as 
well? A twisted smirk gloated on 
Foote’s face. He didn’t know; 
maybe it was because his reputation 
was better. The reporters took this 
down and whistled under their 
breaths. When Old Fireball would 
hear of this, there would be fire- 
works. Would Mr. Foote care to 
tell for publication what he had 
paid? Why, of course, boys. He 



showed them a canceled check, made 
payable to bearer. The check was 
for one hundred thousand dollars. 
He didn’t tell them, naturally, that 
this was the price for highjacking 
Captain Ball. 

When the news hit old Simeon he 
was stunned. So stunned that for 
an unprecedented five minutes he 
lost all flow of language. Sally 
couldn’t understand his reaction. He 
hadn’t told her about the Flying 
Meteor’s secret mission; nor that 
part of his reason for coming to 
Planets had been to be on the spot 
for first news of the venture. She 
herself had wandered around the 
roaring town, feeling curiously 
empty and unsatisfied. Several 
weeks had passed and there had 
been no report from the salvage ship. 
Flash, nor from its owner-captain. 
Why she was staying on she didn’t 
know. Yet every time she deter- 
mined to take ship back to Earth her 
will gave way and she weakly re- 
mained. 

“Why, what’s the matter. Dad?” 
she exclaimed anxiously. She was 
alarmed over her father’s sudden, 
choking, empurpled silence. “Just 
because that man, Foote, hints his 
reputation is better than yours is no 
reason for you to risk apoplexy. 
Everyone knows — ” 

Simeon found part of his voice. 

“It isn’t that, Sally,” he said 

hoarsely. “It’s about Ball and the 
Flying Meteor.” 

“What about them?” 

He told her then; of the dying 
prospector and his half-delirious 

story, of the secret expedition of the 
Flying Meteor. “I can’t understand 
it,” he concluded. “That there as- 
teroid to which that louse, Foote, 
got an assignment is the very same 
one that Ball went after. And Ball 
should’ve been back by now. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



8* 

There’s funny work afoot, and I 
mean Foote.” 

How funny the work was, showed 
up three days later in the form of a 
long spacegram from Ball on Gany- 
mede City, relayed from Earth. 
There were two portions to the space- 
gram, and both of them unsealed all 
of the explosive possibilities that 
dwelt under Simeon’s mild-seeming 
exterior. 

Even Sally had never heard him 
go on like this. For a solid half-hour 
he coruscated and sizzled. His lan- 
guage lifted the temperature of the 
hotel room by ten degrees. His epi- 
thets were triumphs of twisted word 
compoundings. For five minutes 
he’d devote himself to the slimy, 
subterranean, hell-spawned Foote. 
Then, for five minutes more he’d de- 
vote himself with equal expertness 
to a certain ding-danged, balloon- 
headed, smart-Alecky young feller 
by the name of Kerry Dale. Then 
he’d return to his characterizations 
of Foote. 

Sally knew her father; knew it was 
no use to try and stop him when he 
was in this vein. Instead, she read 
the code spacegram that had touched 
him off. It spoke for itself. Hot 
fury assailed her at the first part; 
puzzlement at the second. It wasn’t 
like Kerry. From what she had seen 
of the young man he didn’t do things 
out of sheer nastiness. Always he 
had gained by his tricks. His was 
a hard, realistic code of ethics; but 
so was her father’s. They each rec- 
ognized in the other an antagonist 
worthy of his steel; and secretly they 
admired and respected each other. 

But this stunt of hauling the Fly- 
ing Meteor to Ganymede instead of 
to Planets and thereby ruining what- 
ever slim chance there might have 
been of bringing the highjackers to 
justice didn't make sense. Neither 



did his waiver of the substantial sal- 
vage fees to take up an assignment 
of a claim that he surely must have 
known wasn’t worth a cent. 

Old Simeon finished with a re- 
sounding burst of oratory that 
started curls of smoke in the cush- 
ioned sofa. He picked up his walk- 
ing stick — a flexible, ornamented bit 
of duraluminum — shouted to his 
daughter: “Send a spacegram to 

Roger Horn to come here right away. 
Tell him to charter a boat; a whole 
fleet of boats, if necessary. It’s 
about time that stuffed windbag 
starts to earn the fees I’m paying 
him.” Then he was gone. 

He met Jericho Foote in the hotel 
lobby, surrounded by reporters, still 
hot on the scent of the story. 

“Oh, oh!” murmured one of them 
to his fellows. “Here comes Old 
Fireball and there’s that certain look 
in his eyes. Watch this. It’s going 
to be good.” 

How good it was going to be even 
the hardened reporters did not know. 

Old Simeon moved swiftly through 
them, paying no attention as they 
scattered from his path. Jericho 
Foote rose to meet him. A slight 
alarm assailed him, but it passed. 
After all, there were plenty of wit- 
nesses around. 

“Well, if it isn’t Kenton!” he ex- 
claimed. “You’re looking — ” 

Simeon said nothing. He lashed 
out swiftly with his cane. It caught 
Foote on the shoulder. He staggered 
back, crying out. Simeon followed 
relentlessly. Thivack! Stvish! Crack! 
The cane whistled and sang about 
Foote’s ears, slashed his body, cut 
down his upflung arm, thumped 
across his back as he turned to flee. 
Foote screamed for help, yelled for 
mercy. But still the cane sang and 
danced. It was whispered later that 
the reporters did not interfere until 
Foote had been soundly and thor- 



JURISDICTION 



33 



oughly beaten, and then only be- 
cause, after all, they didn’t want 
actual murder committed. They 
didn’t like Foote. 

Foote was carried to bed and Ken- 
ton sallied triumphantly into the 
street. Foote commenced action 
against Kenton for fifty thousand 
dollars for assault and battery with 
a dangerous weapon and intent of 
mayhem. Kenton counterclaimed 
with a demand for one hundred 
thousand dollars damages for slan- 
der and innuendo that his, Kenton’s, 
reputation wasn’t all that it might 
be. Planets rubbed its collective 
hands and looked forward with glee 
to a fine summer. 

Roger Horn and Captain Ball 
arrived almost simultaneously; Horn 
puffing and gasping from the ur- 
gency of his call, the captain burn- 
ing with desire for revenge against 
all and sundry. 

Horn listened and hemmed and 
hawed. When the captain was 
through he looked worried. “Of 
course . . . hem . . .we have a good 
cause of- action against these . . . 
haw . . . highjackers; if they can be 
found.” 

“To hell with them!” yelled Sim- 
eon. “I want you to get that aster- 
oid back and get that Venusian 
swamp snake, Foote, in the bar- 
gain.” 

Horn cleared his throat. “Well, in 
the first place,” he said judicially, 
“Captain Ball admits he can’t prove 
in a court of law these . . . hem . . . 
scoundrels were hired by Foote.” 

“I can’t,” Ball growled. 

“Therefore, Foote is an . . . ahem 
. . . innocent purchaser for value, 
and whatever claim of forcible entry 
and detainer may be alleged against 
his . . . ah . . . sellers cannot be im- 
puted to him.” 

“Dadfoozle it!” shouted Simeon. 



“I didn’t need you to tell me that. 
Any law apprentice could’ve told me 
the same thing. I’m paying you dis- 
gusting sums to tell me how to get 
things done, not why it cunt be 
done. I’ll bet that scaddlewagged 
Dale would’ve — ” 

Horn winced. Damn Dale! He 
was sick and tired of hearing his 
name thrown in his false teeth every 
time. Then he brightened. He put 
on an air of dignity. “Speaking . . . 
ahem ... of this . . . ah . . . young 
Dale, you lost whatever claim you 
might have had on the asteroid by 
assigning your rights to him. I have 
examined the document, Mr. Ken- 
ton, and I assure you it was properly 
drawn.” 

Simeon deflated. “Huh? Yeah — 
I suppose so.” Then he, too, bright- 
ened. “Anyway, dadburn him! He 
outsmarted himself this time. Sal- 
vage would have amounted to a hun- 
dred thousand. Instead, all he’s got 
is a worthless assignment.” He 
turned suddenly on Horn. “You're 
sure, though, it is worthless?” 

“As sure as I am of anything. I'm 
willing to stake my reputation — ” 

“Huh!” Old Simeon’s snort was 
plainer than words. “Then how 
about getting after him for towing 
Ball to Ganymede?” 

“Well . . . hem . . . I’ll have to 
consult my books — ” 

“You won’t have to,” Ball said 
bitterly. “Dale consulted them be- 
fore he started. He found a decision 
which permitted him to head for the 
nearest port, which was Ganymede 
City. You’ll find it, my dear Mr. 
Horn,” he added with biting sar- 
casm, “in the Decisions of the Inter- 
planetary Commission, Volume 53, 
Page 209.” 

“But why did he take you there?” 
demanded Sally. “He lost by it as 
well as you. Didn’t you say he’s on 
his way here now?” 



34 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“Yes; and I don’t know. Miss 
Sally.” 

Old Simeon regained his elastic 
good humor. “Just pure spite, my 
dear,” he chuckled. “He found out 
he’d made a foolish bargain, and he 
took it out on the captain. After 
all, losing a hundred thousand in 
salvage would — ” 

“By this time, Mr. Kenton, you 
ought to realize I do nothing out of 
spite.” 

They all whirled. The door had 
opened silently. 

“Kerry . . . Mr. Dale!” gasped 
Sally, surprised at the way her heart 
thumped. “When . . . when did you 
arrive?” 

He looked leaner and fitter even 
than that single time she had seen 
him before. Space life agreed with 
him. He carried himself easily and 
there was a sureness about his move- 
ments and speech. 

“About five minutes ago. I took 
an aerocab to beat the news. And 
just stick to Kerry. I like that bet- 
ter from your lips, Sally.” 

Simeon glared at him. “Har- 
rumph! You have a nerve coming 
to me after the dirty trick you 
played.” 

Kerry became curiously humble. 
“That’s why I came, Mr. Kenton. I 
felt . . . uh . . . under the circum- 
stances it was no more than right 
that I make you a proposition.” 

“I’m not interested in your propo- 
sitions, dingblast you!” 

“Wait till you hear it. I’m willing 
to give you half of my assigned 
rights in the asteroid provided you 
pay me the full salvage on the Fly- 
ing Meteor .” 

Old Simeon chuckled. He was in 
high good humor. “You’re slipping, 
son. I’m really disappointed in you. 
I thought you were a young man 



wiio knew r his way about.” He shook 
his head sadly. 

Kerry pretended surprise. “I 
don’t understand, sir. Half of that 
assignment is worth — ” 

“Exactly nothing. No, son. You 
were too smart for your own good. 
You dropped the salvage money and 
I’m going to hold you to it. A con- 
tract is a contract.” 

“That’s your final word?” 
“Absolutely. Business is busi- 
ness.” 

“Good!” Kerry’s countenance 
cleared. “I confess I did feel a little 
conscience-stricken, but you your- 
self tell me business is business.” 
“What do you mean?” 

Kerry grinned. “Captain Ball 
may remember I checked the ele- 
ments of that little asteroid before I 
offered to waive the salvage.” 
“Come to the point.” 

“The point is simple. Asteroid X 
is not, as everyone hastily assumed, 
a member of the Asteroid Belt. It’s 
really a Trojan asteroid, though an 
unusual one. For, while it fulfills 
the classic conditions of the Trojan 
group in that it moves along a stable 
orbit which is equidistant from both 
Jupiter and the sun, it lies apart 
from the ones we have hitherto 
known — such as Hector, Nestor, 
Achilles, Agamemnon and the rest. 
In fact, it swings altogether on the 
opposite apex of the given equi- 
lateral triangle.” 

“What the ding-ding difference 
does it make what group it belongs 
to?” said Simeon impatiently. “An 
asteroid is an asteroid.” 

“In one sense, yes; in another, no. 
The regular asteroids make up an 
independent system. The Trojans 
depend wholly on Jupiter. The Tro- 
jans, Jupiter and the Sun all together 
give one of the known special solu- 
tions of the three-body problem. 
The Trojans, in effect, are satellites 



JURISDICTION 



35 



of Jupiter. Their orbits would go 
haywire if Jupiter’s influence were 
ever removed. And that means, my 
dear sir, that the regional office, hav- 
ing jurisdiction over Asteroid X is 
not Planets, on Vesta, as all of you 
thought — including Foote’s pirates 
— but Ganymede City, which as- 
sumes charge of the Jovian System .” 
They all spoke at once. Sally 
cried: “I see it all now!” Horn 

puffed like an ancient engine. Ball 
said “Damn!” with concentrated in- 
tensity. And Simeon roared: “ That’s 
why you dragged my ship all the 
way to Ganymede, you young snap- 
perwhipper! So you could file that 
claim you swornhoggled me out of.” 
“I offered to split with you at bar- 
gain rates,” Kerry said calmly. “You 
refused the offer.” 

“He’s right,” said Sally. “You did 
yourself out of a good thing by be- 
ing too suspicious.” 

Simeon glared at her; glared at 
Kerry. Then he threw back his 
head and laughed until the tears 
trickled down his wispy beard. 

“What’s so funny, sir?” snapped 
Ball. 

“That Dale beat me again. But I 
don’t mind it so much thinking of 
Jericho Foote’s face when he hears 
this. Even in bed he’s been gloat- 
ing. He spent a hundred thousand 
on his blessed pirates; and all he’s 
got in exchange is a good caning.” 

The door swung open again and 
Foote hobbled in. One arm was in 
a sling; his face was puffed and swol- 
len; and he required a cane for sup- 
port. 

“Evidently Mr. Foote has already 
heard the good news,” Kerry an- 
nounced calmly. “I sent him a note 
as soon as I landed.” 

“You . . . your tricksters!” 

screamed Foote. “I’ll have the law 
AST— 3h 



on you. My hundred thousand! My 
asteroid! My arm! You can’t get 
away with this — ” 

Kerry stepped up to him. His 
voice was dangerous. “Careful what 
you say, you old billy goat. You for- 
get I landed on the asteroid. Your 
hirelings were so anxious to get back 
to you with their plunder that they 
left a bit of evidence behind. Some- 
thing that belongs to you.” 

Foote shrank back in alarm. “It 
... it ain’t so. They didn’t dare . . . 
I mean, I don’t know what you’re 
talking about. Lemrae see it!” 
“You’ll see it fast enough in 
court,” Kerry assured him omi- 
nously. “On the very day, in fact, 
that your case against Mr. Kenton 
for assault and battery comes to 
trial.” 

Foote’s face tried to wreathe itself 
into smiles and failed ignominiously. 
“Heh . . . heh! I was maybe a bit 
hasty. After all, I’m willing to let 
bygones be bygones.” 

“You mean — you’ll drop the ac- 
tion?” 

“Well . . . that is . . . if—” 

“If I don’t produce my evidence. 
O. K.! You sign a discontinuance 
and release, and I’ll promise to keep 
what I’ve got out of public hands. 
But if at any time you — ” 

“I’ll sign!” Foote croaked eagerly. 
“I think,” said Kerry, “Mr. Horn, 
as Mr. Kenton’s attorney, is capable 
of drawing such a simple little docu- 
ment.” 

Horn said pompously: “Young 

man, I — ” 

“Sit down and do it without pala- 
ver,” Simeon rasped. 

The lawyer sat down without an- 
other word and his pen made slow, 
dignified movements on a sheet of 
paper. 

Foote snatched it tremblingly 



86 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



from him, and signed it without even 
reading the contents. “There!” he 
quavered. “Now how about that — ” 

“You have my word.” Kerry’s 
voice was awe-inspiring. 

“Yes, of course; of course! Well, 
good day; good day to you all.” And 
Foote hobbled out faster than he 
had come in. 

Simeon cleared his throat. “Har- 
rumph, young man. I didn’t want 
to interfere, but I think Foote be- 
longs in jail. If your evidence — ” 
Kerry grinned. “Evidence? Do 
you think I’d have bargained to 
withhold evidence of a felony if I 
had any? I’m a lawyer, sir. I don’t 
compound felonies.” 

“Then . . . then — ” 

THE ENT). 



in MS TO ME 

Next month, Isaac Asimov has a novelette, “Nightfall,” inspired by 
a quotation from Emerson — which might, offhand, seem a curious source 
of inspiration for a modern science-fiction writer. Said Emerson: “If the 

stars appeared but one night in a thousand years, how would men believe 
and adore, and preserve for manv generations the remembrance of the City 
of God!” 

“Nightfall” discusses just that point. How would men believe — and 
what — if the stars appeared but once in a millenium or two? Suppose there 
were a planet of a multiple-sun system where there was no night, since there 
was always, everywhere, at least one sun-star in the sky. Except that, once 
in some twenty-five hundred years, the configuration became such that — 
night fell. 

Now — what would happen? Asimov has an idea, and a story — and I 
think they’re both darned good! 

That’s for September’s cover story. October’s, to be discussed more 
fully, will be “By His Bootstraps,” by Robert Heinlein. The November 
cover story will be Dr. E. E. Smith’s newly completed novel, the long- 
waited sequel to “Gray Eensman.” It’s one hundred eighteen thousand 
words, so it will not be complete in the November issue, but probably in 
four parts. Incidentally, if you didn’t read “Gray Lensman,” all the four 
issues containing it aTe available at Street & Smith’s Subscription Depart- 
ment. Now’d be a good time to read — or reread, for that matter — that yarn. 

The Editob. 



“Not a scrap did I find. Sheer 
bluff, sir. And a guilty conscience 
on the part of the estimable Foote.” 
“Well, I’ll be didgosted!” 

Kerry bowed. “There’s a bit on 
my conscience, too. After all, I did 
do you out of a valuable asteroid.” 
“Don’t mention it, son. I’ll do the 
same for you yet. No man ever got 
the final best of Simon Kenton yet.” 
“Here’s hoping. But in the mean- 
time I still have my conscience.” 
His glance rested on Sally. “If Miss 
Kenton could be induced to help me 
spend some of my ill-gotten gains in 
town this evening, I’d feel I’d made 
some reparation.” 

“Being my father’s daughter,” 
murmured Sally, “I accept.” 



37 




mCTfOR LfGfley 



By Raymond Z. Gallon 

There was a strange sart at seed that rode 
the meteor, and under the right conditions, 
if produced a stranger sort of — plant! 



Illustrated by Orban 



“Glad you came, Hal Chester,” 
Tom Simms croaked weakly, leaning 
against the door frame of his adobe 
desert hut. “Got something to show 
you that you won’t believe, until 
you see for yourself. About that big 
meteorite — ” 

He looked tired and feeble — just 



about ready to cash in. I could see 
that life was nearly done for a 
friend whose restless, brilliant, and 
independent thinking I had always 
admired — even though so much of 
it had been wasted, while he’d chased 
rainbows. 

Old Tom was a legend with me. 



S3 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



you understand. A gold miner, sev- 
enty if a day. He had a brain, 
though. One that would have put 
him in a scientist’s smock in an im- 
portant research laboratory some- 
where, instead of in ragged dungarees 
and a battered sombrero — if he’d had 
the training. 

A few years back he’d sold some 
land he’d claimed long ago to a rail- 
road company. Since then, with the 
small amount of money he’d received, 
he’d given his burro and his shovel 
and his bad heart a rest, while he 
read technical magazines and built 
real machinery — mostly from junk- 
yard stuff. 

But he still chose to live in the 
Arizona desert, in a region so lonely 
and desolate that the End of the 
World could start here without any- 
body knowing it for weeks. 

All through July and August he 
hadn’t shown up at my machine 
shop in Tucson. So, considering his 
health, and his solitary habits, I’d 
got worried. The time he’d told me 
about finding a huge, ancient 
meteorite, embedded back of Shadow 
Hill, a mile from his little mud-brick 
house, had been the last I’d seen of 
him. 

So, this Saturday afternoon, I’d 
driven out as far toward his place 
as the roads would take me. I’d 
walked the rest of the way, not know- 
ing yet that I was getting tangled 
with horror. 

Feeble though he was, Tom Simms 
didn’t show many signs of his de- 
feated past, now. Over all his stringy 
body, and in his sly, weary, worried 
smile, there was a faint suggestion 
of grotesque triumph, as though, 
somehow, he’d been tampering with 
the locked gates of Hell — and had 
found the combination. 

“Well, Hal, let’s go take a squint 
at my pets,” he urged darkly. “And 



don’t look so kind of puzzled. Get a 
good grip on your nerve. You might 
need it.” 

Since my arrival I’d heard the 
cryptic rattle of machinery in the 
hot, dusty air. A small gasoline en- 
gine and compressor pumps, it 
sounded like. Tom led the way be- 
hind his gray-walled hut. There, 
sprawled among tall cacti, was a 
queer sort of mounded structure, 
with a flat crest. At one end of it, 
that machinery was working — stuff 
that Tom had probably made him- 
self, mostly from old car parts. 

We climbed the sandy mound by 
means of a crude stairs of carefully 
placed stones. Here, from a little 
platform, I looked down at the struc- 
ture’s level upper surface. The 
mound was a chamber, roofed with 
squares of plate glass — maybe ob- 
tained from a broken store display 
window, or cut from old automobile 
windshields. Each piece was care- 
fully sealed around the edges with 
putty. Tom Simms had used all his 
painstaking ingenuity to make every- 
thing as perfect as possible. 

“I call this my test-tube house,” 
he offered briefly. “The sand piled 
all around it, is to help keep the 
.desert heat out. The inside walls are 
tarred, so they won’t leak. The big- 
ger part of the air is pumped out of 
the room inside, by a special pump I 
made. I built a refrigeration ma- 
chine, too, to keep the partial 
vacuum cold.” 

The purpose of all this work that 
Tom was telling me about, was still 
a mystery to me as he spoke. It 
takes a moment for startling facts to 
register in one’s mind, you under- 
stand. But now my eyes and my 
n>.ain really began to function, 
pushed by something a lot stronger 
and more blood-chilling than mild 
interest. 



METEOR LEGACY 



39 



The brilliant Arizona sunshine 
V streamed into that rectangular, glass- 
covered chamber, making everything 
there plain to be seen. There were 
brownish, olive-tinted lumps, with a 
Jot of spines glittering on them, like 
little, silvery slivers. And a lot of 
vinelike things, massed together. 
Peculiar roundish thick leaves 
sprouted from them. Each stem and 
stalk and leaf was dotted with tiny, 
glassy, wickedly glittering specks. 

* At first, as I looked, all those vine- 
like tendrils were stirring sluggishly, 
lazily, luxuriously. But all of a sud- 
den this movement stopped — froze 
to rigidity — as a man or a wild ani- 
mal might do when surprised by an 
unexpected and possibly dangerous 
visitor. 

Well, there was no use denying 
what I saw. A she-cougar with young 
ones somewhere about, had tried to 
jump me once on a desert night years 
ago. But I hadn’t felt half as bad, 
then. These things were plants, all 
right; but they weren't plants from 
Earth! That fact was plainer than 
print! They weren’t cacti. They 
weren’t real vines, either. Their 
brown-green color, with opalescent, 
prismie hues' shifting on it, like an 
oily w ater, was entirely alien and un- 
familiar. And those dusty plant ten- 
tacles had another property, almost 
unknown among terrestrial vegeta- 
tion — the power of visible if not 
swift movement. They had been 
squirming like snakes before, while 
now, weirdest and most unplantlike 
of all, they were stiff and motionless, 
as if with sudden, doubtful, wary 
fear, at the sudden appearance of 
Tom and myself! 

Desert sun, or no desert sun, I 
still have considerable faith in my 
own observations. I didn’t waste 
time telling my friend that this was 
all an impossible nightmare. My 
hide was prickling all over, as I put 



an almost obvious two and two to- 
gether. 

“Tom,” I rasped, “you mentioned 
the Shadow Hill meteorite when I 
arrived. Just how much has it got 
to do *vith these pets of yours?” 

He snrugged, and showed snaggy 
teeth in a cryptic grin. “The 
meteorite is the whole answer, Hal,” 
he said mildly. “Must be a piece 
of some unknown planet, that maybe 
belonged to an unknown solar sys- 
tem, way out among the stars. Must 
have got smashed up in a collision 
with another world, ages ago. That 
meteorite was on Earth a long time 
since it fell, judging from the way 
the rocks were packed over it when 
I dug it out. Too big to move, but 
there w T as some kind of hard clayey 
stuff deep in the cracks and holes in 
the rusty iron that makes up most 
of it. Soil, Hal; though not quite 
terrestrial soil. But there were roots 
in it, and something black that 
looked like seeds. That clay was 
awful hard and dry — it could keep 
things preserved for a terrible long 
time, Hal — ” 

I sighed raggedly, as old Tom 
paused. It wasn’t so difficult to fill 
in a lot of the story that he’d left 
unsaid. 

“You thought perhaps that those 
seeds could be made to grow, with 
proper care, Tom,” I prompted. “Be- 
cause the climate and atmosphere 
of that other world probably wasn’t 
Earthly, you decided that you 
needed a place w here the tempera- 
ture and air pressure and humidity 
could be tested and adjusted, until 
you found the combination that was 
best suited for the seeds. So you 
built the test-tube house, where this 
could be done.” 

Old Tom nodded. “That’s right,” 
he said. “Those seeds came from a 
dying world, Hal. Where the air 
was thinning out, and where it was 



40 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE- FICTION 



getting cold. Anyhow, the way it 
turned out, that’s the kind of cli- 
mate these plants need.” 

So far, startling though the facts 
were, I had most of them clear in 
my mind. But there was a lot more, 
too. Plenty that made the thought 
of seeds or spores kept alive in a 
meteor, that had perhaps drifted for 
ages from interstellar space before 
it had reached the Earth, seem sim- 
ple and commonplace. After all, life 
is rugged, and the absolute zero of 
the void should be an excellent agent 
to preserve things completely intact 
and changeless. And being embed- 
ded deep in clay in the cracks of the 
meteor, the seeds would not have 
been exposed to the terrific surface 
heat of friction, when the thing that 
bore them had plunged into the 
Earth’s atmosphere. 

Yes, there was much more than 
all this! The way these weird pets 
of Tom’s had stopped squirming, 
when we had first looked down at 
them, through the glass roof of their 
shelter, was deeply significant. It 
was as though they saw us, and were 
studying us! Those hundreds of 
scattered, glassy specks, half hidden 
beneath the silvery vegetable hairs 
of stems and leaves — you could 
hardly escape the thought that they 
were visual organs of some kind. 
Eyes. After all, I’d often read that 
the leaves of even terrestrial vegeta- 
tion contain crude light-sensitive 
cells. 

“All right, Tom,” T -tumbled at 
last. “You couldn’t be' a liar — 
though maybe I wish you were. 
There’s something you can’t avoid 
feeling. These plants are intelli- 
gent. The way they act lets you 
know that. Maybe they’re as smart 
as — well — dogs, for instance.” 

Tom Simms’ tired old eyes gave 
me a you-don’t-know-the-half-of-it 



stare. “Dogs?” he repeated with a 
question in his tone. “Huh!” He 
paused, then he nodded down at the 
glass roof. “Let’s go inside, Hal,” 
he suggested. “There’s a lot that 
you haven’t caught onto yet, the 
way it looks.” 

I won’t kid anyone that I didn’t 
feel real fear just then. I’d hesitate 
to go into a cage full of hungry 
lions, and old Tom’s invitation 
struck me as being a still more seri- 
ous matter. That little test-tube 
house of his, and its eerie inhabi- 
tants, was like a fragment of a name- 
less world. And the unknown is sel- 
dom reassuring. 

But cold, thrilling fascination 
egged me on. Besides, I was tough 
and big and in the prime of life — 
and as used to trouble as most peo- 
ple. Certainly I could go anywhere 
where little, dried-up Tom dared in- 
trude. 

We got down from the top of the 
mounded structure, and went to its 
end, where that homemade engine 
was turning the refrigerator com- 
pressor and exhaust pump and 
other machinery. 

Low down in the flank of the 
mound, here, there was a trapdoor, 
made of wood . It was covered with 
a thick, sealing coat of tar. And 
there was rubber packing around its 
edges, cut from discarded tire inner 
tubes. 

Tom unfastened the bar that held 
the trap in place, and tugged at the 
latter’s wooden handgrip. The trap 
came away with a hollow, plopping 
sound, like the pulling of a cork from 
a jug. We crept in, through the 
opening. 

We were now in a heavily tarred, 
boxlike compartment, which evi 
dently had the purpose of an r 
lock — a means of passing from the 
normally dense atmosphere outside 
to the interior of Tom’s test-tube 



METEOR LEGACY 



41 



house, without destroying the par- 
tial vacuum which existed there. 

There was a second trap over- 
head, but before he opened it, Tom 
sealed the o *er door, and fitted me 
and himself • with goggled masks, 
made mostly from old tire parts. 
Long hoses led from them to a dou- 
ble-nozzled valve in the wail. 

“We’ll need these masks to breathe 
with, when we go inside,” he ex- 
plained. “The air comes through 
the hoses from a little pump hooked 
to the engine.” 

There was a gasping hiss of equal- 
izing pressures, as he pulled that 
upper trap free. In the chill thin- 
ness we ascended through the 
square hole above us. 

“Take everything easy, Hal,” Tom 
cautioned, his voice faint and far- 
away through his mask, and through 
the frosty, rarefied air, that half- 
muted all sounds, like the atmos- 
phere of a dying planet. “Better 
stay where you are — ” 

W onderingIiY I took everything 
in, feeling a lot like a lost pup, 
stranded in an unbumed section of 
woods at the center of a forest fire. 
The dry sand of the chamber’s floor 
was packed with fibrous roots. Tom 
had advanced across the room, 
drawing his air hose behind him. 
Those dusty tendrils with their glit- 
tering eye cells moved a little aside 
at his passage, as though Tom’s 
weird charges knew him, and recog- 
nized him as their friend. 

But otherwise the meteor plants 
were quiet, with what seemed a. still, 
guarded, suspicious tension, full of 
mistrust, fear, and vengeful calcula- 
tion, which I felt was directed 
mostly toward me — an intruder. 

Like some aged botanist fussing 
with rare orchids, Tom Simms mut- 
tered crooningly, appearing to have 
forgotten all about me. But then. 



suddenly, he pointed up toward the 
wall. 

“Hal,” he said. “There’s some- 
thing I wanted you to see.” 

I stared at the spot toward which 
his gnarled index finger was di- 
rected. There was a mass of spiny 
vines there, broadened out into a 
thick, woody lump, that fitted per- 
fectly into a chink in the heavily 
tarred stones of the wall. 

“There was a small leak, once, in 
the stonework,” Tom explained. 
“Air from outside was seeping in. 
I was going to tar up the crevice, but 
before I got a chance, they fixed it. 
They know, all right, that they’re 
on a strange world. They know that 
if too much heavy atmosphere got 
in, they’d smother. They plugged 
the leak by growing into it, and fill- 
ing up the hole.” 

Tom Simms didn’t have to say 
any more than this. Just a few 
minutes ago I’d said that these 
plants had intelligence, maybe like 
that of dogs, in degree. But this 
little demonstration looked like 
something quite a ways beyond 
canine cleverness. 

“That’s nothing much, Hal,” Tom 
offered quietly. “I’m going to show 
you a lot more.” 

He picked up a loose, half-dried 
leaf, that had fallen from one of his 
eerie pets. Then he came back to- 
ward me, while those monstrous 
growths seemed to watch, hating me, 
and afraid of my invasion of their 
private quarters. 

Tom tore the leaf apart. Embed- 
ded in its pulpy texture, were fine, 
whitish threads, and little knobs. 
“Maybe this is brain and nerve 
stuff,” Tom hinted. “Or maybe I’m 
nuts to think so. Anyway, you 
haven’t got the whole set-up yet, by 
any means. We’ll have to go out- 
side again, now — ” 

I was damn glad to be leaving 



42 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



that sullen place, so full of threats 
and spacial mysteries. But just as 
I was getting ready to crawl down 
through the air-lock box again, 
something happened. One of those 
dusty, rainbow-sheened tendrils got 
in my way. It had groped out slug- 
gishly toward, me. Now it touched 
my bare arm. In that moment of 
contact I was surprised that it was 
warm— like animal flesh. I pushed 
at it impulsively, as if a snake were 
crawling on me. A few sharp spines 
went into my fingers, like small 
thorns. There was juice oozing 
from them. 

Old Tom grinned. “That’s hap- 
pened to me lots of times, Hal,” he 
said. “No real harm in it. But 
watch your step from now on, and 
you’d better rub that juice off your 
hands.” 

My friend was grinning all right; 
still I didn’t know whether there was 
a shadow of worried concern in his 
gray eyes or not. 

Out in the open once more, we 
returned to the end of the mound 
structure, where the engine and 
pumps were throbbing. There were 
roots poking up through the sand, 
here. They were shriveled a little, 
because they weren’t made for this 
strange, hot climate. They had evi- 
dently burrowed out from under- 
neath the sealed foundations of the 
sealed test-tube house. Nourished 
by the parent growths within, they 
could continue to live in an Earthly 
environment. 

But it was the way those meteor- 
plant roots were tangled up with the 
base of the machinery, that looked 
really important. They seemed to 
grope all over it, through oil and en- 
gine dirt, as if trying to find out 
what all this queer Earthly appara- 
tus could be! 

There were those same little glint- 



ing eye lenses that I had seen before 
in the test-tube house, dotting 
those roots; and at the ends of the 
latter were tiny, suckerlike cups 
that clung tightly to the metal of 
the machinery, and oozed a sticky 
fluid. Around the sucker cups grew 
tiny whitish filaments. Fine as spi- 
der web, they still must have been 
specially conditioned, somehow, to 
an Earthly climate, for they did not 
wilt. And it wasn’t hard to imagine 
that those filaments were sensitive 
far beyond human touch. 

“You see that gooey stuff that 
comes out of those suckers, Hal?” 
old Tom whispered. “I tested it. 
It’s a kind of vegetable acid. It eats 
up metal — dissolves a little of it. 
And then — well — those little fine 
threads touch the liquid afterward, 
as though tasting it, or something. 
Those threads are so damn fine that 
you can figger they might be able to 
feel most anything — maybe even 
chemical structures. A sort of 
chemical analysis — ” 

I might have commented on Tom’s 
weird idea right then— a hint of a 
science far different from the science 
we know. But then I noticed some- 
thing else. Two things, really, that 
gave me a cold chill of what seemed 
slowly culminating danger. 

There was a little cactus there, 
growing by the engine. It was an 
ordinary variety. But a bunch of 
white threads from those alien roots, 
had enveloped it in a kind of lace- 
work that glistened in the sunshine. 
Some of those filaments had bored 
right through the cactus’ tough shell, 
as if seeking the soft interior. 

But that prickly desert growth 
was the least interesting of the two 
captives those meteor 'ants had 
made. The other was a <y lizard. 
It 'was webbed, too, with those pale, 
spidery strands, and held down so 
that it couldn’t more than squirm. 



METEOR LEGACY 



49 



by stronger root structures. And 
just as with the cactus, many of 
those threads had drilled right un- 
der the lizard’s scales, as if probing 
its vitals beneath. 

Some plants I had heard about 
were carnivorous, like the Venus fly- 
trap, for instance. That was what 
prompted me in my next question. 

“What are your pets doing, Tom?” 
I asked. “Eating that cactus and 
that lizard?” 

Old Tom spread his hands, palms 
upward, in a gesture of doubt. 
“Maybe,” he responded. “Only 
both those things have been covered 
with those threads for days — plenty 
of time for them to be eaten up, if 
they were going to be.” 

“Then what’s happening to 
them?” I stammered. “What else 
could be happening?” 

Tom Simms grinned mildly again, 
the fascination of questioning mys- 
teries in his eyes. “Dunno, Hal,” he 
drawled. “That is — for sure. But 
I got an idea. What would you do, 
if you were stranded on some strange 
planet? Try to find out as much 
as you could about the things 
around you, I guess, in order to 
make a fair fight to stay alive. 
That’s what these meteor plants are 
doing, I think. Exploring my ma- 
chinery, to see how it works, if they 
can. Exploring that cactus and that 
lizard — maybe to find out how they 
happen to be — alive. Those pets of 
mine are smart as hell. They aren’t 
dumb. Smart as we are, or maybe 
more so. Civilized, too, I wouldn’t 
be surprised. And I got an idea that 
they know plenty about science, be- 
sides.” 

“Science?” I blurted, remembering 
what I had thought before. “Tom, 
you’re nuts! How could these 
plants know about science? Where 
are their instruments and apparatus 
and machines?” 



Old Tom grimaced tolerantly. “I 
didn’t say that it was the same kind 
of science as ours, Hal,” he offered. 
“They’re — vegetation. Making 

things out of metal and stone and 
other materials like that, is prob- 
ably more than they can do. But 
see how fine and delicate those root 
filaments are! How do you know 
that they aren’t a thousand times 
more sensitive than the most com- 
plicated instruments we can devise? 
How do you know that they don't 
have senses that we never heard of? 
How do you know that they can’t 
‘feel’ atoms and molecules? How do 
you know that they haven t a way 
of finding out what life itself is?” 

Crazy or not, that weird thought 
proved the originality of Toni 
Simms’ mind. It gave me an idea 
of what kind of a scientist he might 
have made, if, in his youth, he’d 
traded his burro and his shovel for 
a spell in a university lecture hall 
and lab, sending that restless soul 
of his along a different orbit. 

As it was, that idea he’d given me 
began to soak into my imagination. 
And sweat, cold and clammy and 
nervous, began to soak out — into my 
shirt. 

Meteor plants, from an ancient, 
shattered world, far, far away, in 
space. A vegetable civilization, ut- 
terly alien, and just dimly compre- 
hensible. And now, here, maybe 
started again — on Earth! Had these 
plants perhaps inherited the mem- 
ories and the knowledge of their an- 
cestors? How far beyond anything 
a man might understand, did their 
weird powers go? Theirs was a sci- 
ence that had followed a different 
course. 

It’s no fun to destroy anything 
wonderful. But there was danger 
here. Hatred. Suspicion. I had 
sensed these things many minutes 



44 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE- FICTION 



ago. And now my own vague fears 
seemed to culminate in thoughts of 
action. No one could really guess to 
what strange, dread end this miracle 
that Tom Simms had started might 
lead, or what subtle means of attack 
these nameless monsters might use. 

“Tom,” I said quietly, “there’s 
just one thing for us to do. Pour 
gasoline on the whole business, here. 
Bum it up. Quick!” 

He nodded. “I thought yota’d tell 
me that, Hal,” he said. “But I can’t 
do it. I won’t. Not yet, anyhow.” 

T supposed that it was scientific 
interest — eagerness to learn more 
about these mysterious entities — 
that restrained Tom’s urge to de- 
stroy. Unless it was something else 
— something that the meteor plants 
had already planned and carried out. 

“But you’ll be all alone here, 
Tom,” I argued quietly. “These 
things might kill you, some way, for 
all you know.” 

He grinned wearily. “Nope, Hal. 
I don’t think so,” he said. “If I 
stopped taking care of these plants, 
keeping the machinery running and 
everything, they’d die after a while. 
T’m sure they realize that. And I 
can’t live long, anyhow. As for dan- 
ger to other people — well — this is a 
long ways out in the desert. I guess 
T can take a chance. Please don't 
tell anybody, Hal, when you go back 
to town.” 

I felt anger rising in me gradually 
— anger at the stubbornness of this 
strange, lovable, free-thinking old 
miner — fury at the vague, threaten- 
ing enigma he harbored. My right 
hand felt sore, reminding me of 
something. In the test-tube house 
I’d been pricked by the spines of 
one of those weird tendrils there. 
And it had felt warm, like animal 
flesh — as though this bizarre vege- 
tation, native to so frigid a planet, 
could develop its own heat. 



Well, it’s useless to argue with a 
free-soul like Tom Simms. 

“O. K. I’m going now, Tom,” I 
said. “But I’m coming back to- 
morrow — and I’ll bring some other 
people with me. Folks have got to 
know.” 

Hating to leave him alone there, 
I started walking toward the road 
and the filling station several miles 
away, where I’d left my car. I was 
feeling pretty ugly and nervous. I 
was hoping that there was some kind 
of nuisance law that could compel 
Tom Simms to do away with his 
ghoulish pets, or at least to have 
them transferred to some place 
where trained biologists could watch 
them. 

But then a funny thing began to 
happen to my anger. It sort of 
dulled away. A foggy disinterest in 
all of Tom’s marvelous discovery 
began to come over me as I plodded 
across the desert. 

“None of your business, Hal 
Chester,” I began muttering to my- 
self. “None of your darn business. 
Might as well keep your mouth 
shut.” 

Just once I looked again at my 
right hand. It had been smeared 
with juice from the meteor plants 
recently, and those small lacerations 
from the thorns afforded an easy 
passage to my blood stream. 

A dim, half-hearted panic came 
over me, then. Some drugs, even 
those w r e know about, are plenty 
subtle. They dull emotions. Inspire 
wild, artificial courage, subdue fear, 
bring indifference. There are even 
some that’ll make a man tell the 
truth. 

Was there something in the juice 
that had covered my fingers — a drug 
which the meteor plants had created 
— willed — within themselves, for a 
purpose — by means of some subtle 



METEOR LEGACY 



45 



chemistry of their own life processes? 
What I’d seen of them, seemed to 
indicate that they worked with life 
— not with metals and things, as 
men do. Had they compelled Tom 
Simms’ loyalty to them with a simi- 
lar though not identical drug? 

Briefly my panic sharpened, then 
faded away, as if under the influ- 
ence of some unnamed anaesthetic. 
But I didn’t care any more. I drove 
back to Tucson in a daze. For 
nearly a month I went about my 
work quite like a living robot. Out- 
wardly, I suppose, I seemed quite 
normal, tending my machine shop. 
But I said nothing about my recent 
experiences, feeling dimly that no- 
body would believe what I had to 
tell, anyway. 

But at last a strong craving came 
over me, though I was still a trifle 
dazed. I needed more drug. That 
was the principal reason why I drove 
back to Tom Simms’ place, there in 
the desert . I went alone, like a dope 
fiend, hiding a secret. 

The stove in old Tom’s adobe hut 
was cold. Dust was thick on his 
stacks of magazines. There was 
dust even in his frying pan . All this 
was plain evidence of long desertion. 
Something had happened to Tom. 
Nor, in the brooding stillness of late 
afternoon, could I hear the sounds 
of his machinery. 

The mounded test-tube house 
looked the same as before, but the 
engine and the pumps attached to 
it had stopped, apparently when the 
fuel had run out. The lizard and 
the cactus, which the meteor plants 
had been exploring with the fila- 
ments and suckers of their runaway 
roots, had both died. But near their 
withered remnants, pulpy stems and 
leaves were growing. The roots, 
boring up from beneath the founda- 
tions of the test-tube house, had 
sprouted new shoots that looked dif- 



ferent from those I remembered. 
The skin that covered them was less 
thick, and their color was a brighter 
green. The meteor plants, perhaps 
by some willed changes in their 
structures — controlled and directed 
growth — seemed to be adapting 
themselves to Earthly conditions. 
In time they might succeed — 

Swiftly I broke into the test-tube 
house, not bothering to use the air- 
lock box as was normally intended. 
Atmosphere was pulled into the in- 
terior with a whistling sigh — for 
though the exhaust pump must have 
stopped functioning quite a while 
ago, there was still a fairly high 
vacuum inside. 

The meteor plants here in their 
shelter were wilting badly, for they 
must have been long untended. 
They scarcely stirred at my entry, 
though their brooding eye lenses still 
seemed to stare at me calculatingly. 

Among their massed leaves there 
was a queer growth, composed of 
hundreds of tightly wrapped, woody 
tendrils, amalgamated together, 
forming a sort of huge cocoon. I 
didn’t have to wonder long what it 
contained. My fears and suspicions 
prompted me. Besides, its shape was 
suggestive. As long as a man, and 
a little broader, with gruesome con- 
tours that hinted at head and shoul- 
ders and arms and legs — like some 
crude Egyptian mummy case, made 
out of spiraling vines that had 
grown together. 

I didn’t have to be told that old 
Tom Simms was entombed in that 
woody mass. All the wonders I’d 
seen in connection with the meteor 
plants, seemed to increase that pan- 
icky horror that squirmed in my 
blood, now. These monsters were 
carnivorous after all, it seemed. 
Somehow they’d captured Tom. 
Huge, man-eating plants. Stories 



4a 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



of things like that came out of 
Africa — only this vegetation had 
come from much farther than the 
Dark Continent. 

All the craving for drugged juice, 
and all that dazed indifference that 
I’d felt before, was driven out of 
me now, by retching revulsion. I 
stumbled out of the test-tube house, 
and staggered off into the desert. I 
wanted to straighten out my 
thoughts. I didn’t think of the 
miracles of another science, directly. 
I just tried, from a human view- 
point, to realize what had happened. 
I struggled to get the last traces of 
that dull fog, that had obscured my 
mind for so long, out of my head. 
For one thing, old Tom was gone, 
his life done, futile in spite of that 
brilliant brain of his, with all its in- 
ventive possibilities, squandered 
through the years. 

Thus, as I roamed aimlessly, the 
blue desert shadows lengthened. A 
cougar screamed eerily as the stars 
began to burn. Not until then did I 
turn back, across the hills. 

In the test-tube house, I groped 
with a flashlight. The cocoon of 
amalgamated tendrils was broken 
open along its length — like a seed 
pOd. From the edges of the rent 
there dripped an albuminous stuff — 
that, and shreds of clothing. This 
seemed the true, final depth of all 
possible horror. The cannibal plants 
had apparently discarded what they 
could not devour. I touched the co- 
coon, or vegetable stomach, gingerly, 
avoiding the spines. Yes, it was 
warm. 

I did not know that in that co- 
coon I was looking at the greatest 
miracle I had ever beheld. Some- 
thing closer to the fountain of life 
than any human wizard has ever 
penetrated, or maybe ever will. 

Sickening hate, and lust to de- 



stroy was all I felt. Like a coldly 
maniacal fiend, I went out and found 
a drum of gasoline. A minute later 
a huge, red flare, tipped with black 
smoke, leaped toward the sky. The 
glass roof of the test-tube house 
buckled with heat and fell in. Those 
meteor plants from somewhere 
among the stars, sizzled and sput- 
tered as fire ate them. They were 
dying, and all their unholy knowl- 
edge was dying with them. 

I had staggered back to watch, 
when -a voice spoke behind me: 
“You damn, crazy fool, Hal Chester! 
What did you do that for?” 

It was Tom Simms’ voice, speak- 
ing to me, when I had every reason 
to suppose that he was dead! Tom’s 
words were shrill and excited and 
anguished — but without their usual 
cracked and ancient tone. 

I just turned around, dumbly. I 
couldn’t say anything. My old 
friend was there, in the dancing lurid 
light and deceptive shadows. 
Though he was vastly changed, I 
couldn’t mistake the shape of his 
head and the cast of his thin nose. 
He was wearing only a crumpled and 
much-patched pair of dungarees, 
that he must have just gotten from 
his hut. 

“Hal,” he croaked at last, not 
sounding angry any more, “maybe 
you did right after all. They were 
dangerous — those meteor plants. 
They needed me. That was the only 
reason why they saved my life.” 

“Saved your life, Tom?” I ques- 
tioned at last with foggy confusion. 

“Sure,” he returned raggedly. “I 
had a heart attack a couple of days 
after you left, that other time you 
visited me. I was in the test-tube 
house when I keeled over. Vines be- 
gan to wrap around me before I lost 
consciousness. I didn’t wake up 
again, till that funny shell split open, 
just a little while ago.” 



METEOR LEGACY 



47 



Tom’s words shook, as though he 
was afraid of them, and could hardly 
believe them himself. But during 
the next few moments, I managed to 
realize that stupendous, staggering 
truth. Something had happened to 
Tom, while he lay in the warm 
fluids that must have filled that co- 
coon. Now I began to grasp the 
true extent of the knowledge pos- 
sessed by the meteor plants. A 
science of life — not of inert metals 
and clumsy instruments. They 
worked with life, building organic 
chemicals within themselves, and 
doubtless feeling, too, as Tom had 
once hinted, the ultimate pulse of 
protoplasm, by means of senses un- 
known to humans. Small wonder, 
then, that, in their own field, they 
could far surpass the marvels of 
Earth scientists. 

Tom Simms stood there before 
me, straight as an arrow, with the 
firelight flickering on his muscular 
torso and high, pale forehead. All 
the years and the infirmities had 
been stripped from him. He looked 
— not seventy — but nineteen. Not a 
pathetic might-have-been, with so 
many wasted talents, but a kid, 
ready and eager! 

The meteor plants had rejuve- 
nated him, doubtless for their own 



selfish purposes, because they needed 
a strong young attendant. But now 
there would be another story to tell. 

“Tom,” I urged waveringly, 
“we’ve got to get you back to civili- 
zation and buy you some clothes and 
stuff. The State University has al- 
ready opened. But that won’t mat- 
ter — for you. I’ll lend you some 
dough. Figure it’ll be a good in- 
~~ vestment.” 

His slim, steady fingers curled, as 
if they were already touching instru- 
ments lovingly. But there was 
something else in his attitude, too — 
something awed and deep and ad- 
miring, as he looked up at the stars, 
and down at the still-blazing test- 
tube house. 

I guess he was feeling the same 
things that I was feeling. The dis- 
tances of the Universe, and its end- 
less enigmas. The meteor plants 
were hideous and horrible — but 
they’d fought courageously for sur- 
vival on an alien world. Their tre- 
mendous pluck and weird knowl- 
edge were worth many reverent 
thoughts. And behind them, un- 
willingly, they’d left for Tom Simms 
a tremendous legacy. 

“Gosh, Hal — ” was all he could 
say. 



THE END. 




fepsi Cofa is mode only by Pepsi-Cola Company, long Island City, H. Y. Bottled locally by authoiized bottleis. 




43 



KLySTROn fOBT 

By William Corson 

The klystron forts weren't comfortable or diverting 
places, so the boys had a pet — a pet whale. The only 
trouble with having a pet whale in war time was that 
it could be mistaken for a submarine — and vice versa! 

Illustrated by Kolliker 



“Sue’s gotta be killed!” said Clark. 
“No!” said Chick. 

“She’s goin’ to wreck this bloody 
icebox if she isn’t!” 

“Look, lieutenant, dear — she'll go 
away by herself if we just quit turn- 
ing the lights on her. Never saw a 
white one before — she’s beautiful!” 
Chick Taylor swung the cover over 
the bull’s-eye window. “There ain’t 
no record of any damage on that ac- 
count. If they didn’t have windows 
in these refrigerators, there wouldn’t 
be any trouble with curious fishes 
like Gypsy Rose, anyway.” 

“Nuts!” retorted Clark. “The ports 
aren’t to amuse fish; they’re to keep 
fanners like you from getting any 
more claustrophobia than you al- 
ready got.” He took his feet off the 
instrument table, sat up in the swivel 
chair and started going through the 
bulging pockets of his heavy, fleece- 
lined coveralls. “In the first place, 
how do you know it’s a ‘she’? I’m 
not that familiar with whales — ever!” 
With a grunt of satisfaction he pro- 
duced a moth-eaten plug of tobacco 
and set to worrying it with his teeth. 

“Looking at the underside of a 
wave is sure a swell cure for claus- 
trophobia!” snorted Chick. 

“Honest, that’s what they’re for,” 
asserted Clark. “Maybe it don’t 
seem like much, but they tried it out. 
And for another thing, it breaks the 



monotony. Ain't nearly so many 
forts reporting each other as mys- 
terious objects cutting the beams.” 

Chick sprawled on his bunk. 
“Huh! That’s because the admiral 
said the next guy did that got perma- 
nent North Atlantic destroyer duty. 
How about we make a deal? You 
don’t report Gypsy Rose to the 
Polaris tomorrow and I’ll play you 
a hand of chess after dinner every 
night. Yoicks!” He rolled out of his 
bunk and leaped to Clark’s side as a 
shrill beep came from the telltale 
attached to the wall over the intri- 
cate panel machinery. 

Clark sat rigidly at the table, his 
eyes intent on the instruments. He 
twirled one stud a fraction and the 
faint beep came again, while one 
needle in a row of graduated dials 
jumped slightly. Back with the stud 
—the needle jumped and the horn 
beeped. Farther out in the opposite 
direction he spun the control, and 
with it the south surface hinge of the 
miles-long wall of beams that fanned 
from the fort swept forward across 
the ocean. No sound from the tell- 
tale and no needles jumped. Clark 
returned the stud to its original posi- 
tion and sagged back in his chair. 

“Great invasion! Fully six feet 
long and at least half a mile from 
here!” He waved a disdainful hand 
at the instrument table and its pyra- 



49 




50 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



mided panels. “Any gadget that can’t 
offhand tell a log from a battleship 
needs glasses!” 

Chick walked over to the com- 
bined washstand and kitchen sink 
and peered into the mirror hung over 
it. Sweat from the gray-painted steel 
walls had run down its surface in 
such quantity that it was perma- 
nently streaky. He wiped a section 
and scrutinized his face with atten- 
tion, fingering his short beard. 

“Y’know,” he said, “I think I’ll 
shave it off. It seemed like a good 
idea, but now it — well — it doesn’t 
itch exactly, but it bothers me! How 
about it? I play you chess and I 
don’t make any more cracks about 
that dirty stuff you chew and so you 
don’t set the squad off the Polaris 
after liT Gypsy Rose. Oke?” 

Lieutenant Clark chewed rumina- 
tively for a moment and then said: 

“Oke. But you’re the one that 
gets out of bed at three a. m. and 
listens for motors the next time she 
sets off the klystron by playing sub- 
marine. So help me. I’ll crawl out 
of a port and strangle her if she does 
it to me again. I don’t mind being 
scared to death by her petting the 
icebox and turning us upside down 
now and then. That’s the navy de- 
partment’s worry,” he continued 
with heavy sarcasm. “They only put 
us down this far so the equipment 
could sit on an even keel, but what’s 
a war compared to your love for that 
infernal goldfish?” 

“She hasn’t done a thing for a 
week, now,” defended Chick. He 
was snipping at his beard with scis- 
sors from the first-aid kit. “Every- 
thing in these forts is bolted down 
tight, anyway.” 

“I’m not bolted down tight!” 
snapped Clark. 

“You don’t try. Why do you sup- 
pose they ever called them forts? 



Not even a pistol in the place — we’d 
be a pushover for a peevish trout.” 

“Well, it’s like this,” said Clark. 
“It’s a long story — I’ll tell you about 
it.” He swung his chair around to 
be able to watch Seaman-Radioman 
Taylor’s operations, slumped as low 
as possible and put his feet on the 
air-conditioner unit that hissed softly 
in the middle of the floor. “I worked 
with Atlas Electric up to two years 
ago on the television-guided tor- 
pedo stuff. It wasn’t so good. I was 
the fair-haired boy who doped out 
how to sink the enemy fleet before it 
even got within big-gun range.” He 
laced his fingers behind his head and 
shifted his cud. 

“These things wouldn’t cut rates,” 
complained Chick. 

“They weren’t meant for wire. 
Anyway, we had a couple of planes 
on each carrier stripped for nothing 
but high-altitude work. Only car- 
ried light short-wave sets to key re- 
lays on the mother ships for direct- 
ing ocean-going, long-distance tor- 
pedoes. The boys in the planes sat 
up at forty-five thousand feet and 
guided the oversized ‘fish’ that were 
launched thirty miles away from the 
fast mother ships, groups of six as 
needed. Enemy fighters, antiair- 
craft — nothing could get up high 
enough to bother them.” 

“Nuts! They couldn’t see tor- 
pedoes from forty-five thousand 
feet,” Chick objected. 

“Ah! True. But they could see 
the trails of white smoke that work- 
ing the right relays let go. Tele- 
scopes. They could swing the ‘fish’ 
around, line them on with a burst 
of smoke, and then charge the 
enemy, time and again, all afternoon, 
until they got him. Torpedoes run 
out of fuel? Yell for another squad! 
Relays to set full one-hundred-eighty- 
degree turns, and so on. Beautiful! 



KLYSTRON FORT 



51 



All mine!” He smacked his lips com- 
placently. 

“Might work,” said Chick dubi- 
ously, through a thick layer of lather. 
“Did work, you cynic!” 

“Why don’t I hear about it, ever? 
You know I’m in the navy, too!” 
“Well, we were at peace when it 
was first broached. So a newspaper 
wrote it up in a feature article about 
our magnificent navy and its power- 
ful secret weapons, so-o-o the little 
brown brothers — I mean yellow ones 
— hopped up and stripped down 
some planes. To the last but one 
machine gun, see? And those ships 
could make forty-five thousand, too. 
We dropped it.” 

“Where’s the television come in?” 
“Ah . . . later . . . uh . . . 
well, you see, we built these forts 
and — it all comes back to me — we 
were hanging televisors above them 
at thirty thousand on cables from 
balloons, and were going to run the 
same big torpedoes out from them 
and knock off the enemy at any dis- 
tance, but — you know how it is — 
bugs in all these Goldberg inven- 
tions — ” He trailed off with a vague 
wave of the hand, spat in a bucket 
under the chair and sank back. 

“Whadya mean — bugs? They 

plain didn’t work?” 

“Oh, no! They worked fine, but — 
well — you see, the seagulls ruined the 
visibility on the televisors!” 

Chick shaved on for half a stroke 
and then wheeled and said sternly: 
“Gotcha!” He waggled the razor like 
a district attorney’s finger. “How’d 
seagulls get up to thirty thousand?” 
Lieutenant Clark glanced hastily 
at the wall clock and sat up. “Super- 
charged,” he replied smugly. “Time 
to check communications — don’t 
bother me.” He snapped a switch 
and said quickly: “Klystron Fort 9, 
Clark: testing — Klystron Fort 9, 

Clark—” 

AST — 4h 



Chick spluttered indignantly. 

“O. K.: one, two, three, four — 
acknowledged!” broke in the annun- 
ciator on the wall. “Go away now — 
you’re only one of fourteen little forts 
that want to talk to daddy.” 

The annunciator hum ceased. 
Clark snapped off the contact and 
spat. 

“If I were Emily Post, I’d tell him 
he was talking to a commission.” 

“Whatever became of the old dis- 
cipline in this man’s navy?” inquired 
Chick in a cavernous tone occasioned 
by dipping his face in the basin to 
wash off soap. 

“I’ll swap you and get dinner if 
you’ll cook lunch. My feet are 
asleep.” Clark yanked down the 
zipper on a “inukluk” and reached it 
to rub his foot. “Don’t think there’s 
even a C. P. O. in these sardine cans; 
Sparks probably doesn’t know he’s 
face to face with rank.” 

“How’d you get so rank as t’be 
sent out here?” 

“Ah!” Clark grinned and winked 
mysteriously. “I had pull!” 

Chick said: “Nuts!” One hand 

grabbed a towel, the other yanked a 
lever. Water gurgled and com- 
pressed air rumbled outside. 

The hooded light over the in- 
strument panel left the rest of the 
little “fort” in dimness. Steady snor- 
ing from both bunks drowned out 
the hiss of the air unit. The wall 
heaters were not on. 

“Bee-eep!" said the telltale. 

Chick sat up, then subsided to one 
elbow. Clark, in a flurry of blankets, 
leaped out of bed and into the chair 
before the control board, howling as 
he sat down on the cold leather. A 
glance at the indicator needles and 
some quick twisting of a dial, then 
he leaped back to his bed and smiled 
happily. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



68 

“All right. Admiral Taylor, 
m ’friend! Take over with the ear- 
phones and start playing around. 
It’s your little sweetheart, Gypsy 
Rose. See if her motor’s running!” 
He pulled his covers high and turned 
over. 

Chick sat up and glared reproach- 
fully at his superior’s back. One re- 
luctant foot touched the floor boards 
and he winced. A soft snore came 
from the other bunk. He got up, 
clad in regulation but thin pajamas. 

A quick check of the dials and a 
flick of a vernier. It seemed Gypsy 
Rose was cruising placidly near the 
surface, about ten miles north of the 
fort. He switched on the sound de- 
tector and spark-and-oscillation 
pickup and shudderingly put on the 
icy, damp earphones. A preliminary 
wide swing over the suspicious region 
and he heard nothing. A drop of 
water ran off the headset and trickled 
down his neck. Chick yanked off the 
phones and dove for his bunk. 

"Beep!” Then, a second later, an- 
other beep. 

"Ye Gods! Grand Central!” 
moaned Clark, bouncing out of bed. 

“I’m now supposed to be on 
watch,” murmured Chick. 

"Then whadya doing in bed? 
Nope, past eight; I’m ‘It.’ ” Clark 
was checking the instruments as he 
spoke, and the telltale was emitting 
a series of beeps. 

"Lordy, seven ships heading west!” 
He swung the radio loop and turned 
on power. “No warning — don’t un- 
derstand it.” While the tubes 
warmed he pulled on his coveralls, 
then sat down and pulled out the 
lazy-tong desk “mike.” 

“Ship ahoy! Who are you?” Over 
his shoulder he appealed to Chick: 
“Wotinell d’you say to a fleet? ‘W 7 ho 
goes there,’ or what?” 

“Must be swell to be a technical 



officer and know everything!” mar- 
veled Chick. 

“Ship ahoy! All of you! Who 
are you?” 

The annunciator buzzed faintly 
and then a voice boomed: “German 

high seas fleet on the warpath! Who 
the devil d’ya think we are? And 
what do you mean by calling us?” 

“Oh, Americans,” muttered 
Clark. Then, into the mike: “This 

is Klystron Fort 9 calling. Are you 
a convoy? What are you doing so 
far south?” 

“Aren’t you on speaking terms 
with the shore?” inquired the an- 
nunciator. “Icebergs above Ten. 
This is the Cestus. And you’d bet- 
ter have a good explanation ready 
by the time we anchor!” 

“ Cestus ? Is Krantz aboard?” 

“This is Lieutenant Commander 
Krantz! And may I ask who you 
are?” 

“Don’t be so stuffy, you padded 
Dutch midget!” 

"What? Why, you’ll be in the 
brig so long that . . . that — Oh, 
heUr raved the annunciator. "Who 
are you?” 

“Temper, tem-per!” admonished 
Clark in dulcet tones. Chick was 
listening with popping eyes. 

“Don’t ‘temper’ me, you tele- 
phone-operating idiot!” grated the 
irate captain. “When I find out who 
you are — and 1 will,” he bellowed, 
“I’ll make you wish you’d never 
heard of the navy!” 

“Why, Dutch, your disposition’s 
gotten worse! Tslc, tskl” Clark 
wriggled with enjoyment. 

“Dutch?” whispered the voice. 
Silence for a moment. Then: “I’m 

going to kill someone. Is this 
Cameron?” 

“This is Lieutenant Commander 
Thomas Barton Clark, m’boy. 



KLYSTRON FORT 



53 



Haven’t you a single friendly word 
for an old schoolmate?” 

“Hell’s bells,” said the voice, 
faintly. “It’s the old Genius, him- 
self!” Then, boomingly: “Thought 

you were out in California, retired. 
Glad it was you, though — thought 
for a while that I was going crazy — 
even though y’can expect almost 
anything from the bunch of draft 
dodgers they got down those tin 
cans.” 

“I was only out for six months — 
got yanked right back in when the 
fracas started.” 

“Gotta cut this short; look me up 
when you get loose, willya?” 

“Sure; get me a redhead. So long!” 
Clark broke the contact and spun 
around to face Chick, 

“Dutch was my roommate at the 
academy,” he explained. 

“Well, well. And I thought he 
was a mere lieutenant. Now my cell- 
mate’s a lieutenant commander. 
Come clean, what is this new instal- 
lation? Please, sir, kind sir?” begged 
Chick, looking as formal as he could 
while draped with bedclothes. 

“Quit heckling. I told you I 
couldn’t tell. Not till I get the go- 
ahead. You’re an M. I. T. man and 
a thirty-day sub- worker, so to speak, 
or you wouldn’t be in this particular 
icebox.” Clark turned on the wall 
heaters and started fussing with the 
coffeepot. “I’ve been off ‘line’ work 
and busy with civilians so long I 
hate the formality I’d have to use if 
you were an ordinary enlistment. 
But forget this on your next job, or 
you’ll lose a lot of hair, even in ‘Con- 
struction.’ ” He turned on the hot 
plate and continued: 

“This was to be a four-day testing 
job on a jury-rig installation. Then 
they said the rest of the stuff wasn’t 
ready and to wait. That was over 



three weeks ago.” He ran a thumb 
over his toothbrush and cursed. 
“Never dry out! Hell! You’re here 
because I yanked you out of the 
records.” 

Chick got up and washed his face, 
groaning. “Fiend! Kidnaper!” 

“Can’t be long, now’,” defended 
Clark. 

“Why didn’t they send one of the 
guys that worked up the gadget?” 
He nodded at the canvas-draped 
cube at the left of the instrument 
table. 

“They did — me! The rest are 
building more installations, or find- 
ing bugs in this one, or just snicker- 
ing at me out here on ice; I dunno! 
I can’t start calling Washington and 
that way indicate there’s something 
odd about Klystron Fort 9: this is 
supposed to be hush-hush.” 

“They’ve forgotten you and called 
the whole thing off,” suggested 
Chick. 

“Could be! That’s why I can’t 
explain until they say ‘unveil’!” 
Opening a steel cupboard, Clark 
asked: “Boiled or fried?” 

“Bzz-bzzt!” said the annunciator, 
red light glowing. Chick leaned over 
from the port through which he had 
been peering and flicked the com- 
munication switch. 

“ — ort 9! Shore calling Klystron 
Fort 9! Shore — ” 

“Go ahead, Shore,” instructed 
Chick. 

“Rough weather! Big waves out 
your way around sunset. Twenty- 
three of them!” announced the voice. 

Clark yelled from his bunk: “How 
come you didn’t tell us about the 
switch in the — ah — storm path that 
brought the seven big ‘waves’ in 
through last night?” 

“What? Oh — we were busy. The 



54 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



Old Man said you’d find out, any- 
way.” 

“We did,” Chick said, “with sound 
effects! Got hell for talking to a 
convoy.” 

“For talking to the waves,” cor- 
rected the voice. 

Clark snorted over his book. 

“Yeah, sure, ‘waves.’ If there’s 
any kickback, you get the buck, 
chum!” replied Chick, irritably. 

“Aw, you’d have called them, any- 
how; they were way late!” 

“You know I’d put in a call to you 
and you’d call them if I even sus- 
pected they were a convoy — late or 
not!” shapped Chick. 

“You should have, 'as it was!” said 
the voice, triumphantly. “I just said 
that to catch you. Don’t you bother 
to read the K. F. Manual?” 

“Aw — no use arguing with a sea 
lawyer! You just call us next time 
you’re supposed to, and we’ll take 
care of our end.” Chick snapped off 
the contact and turned to Clark. 
“Y’know, the lug’s right!” 

“Nuts, what do they expect when 
they put a couple of Construction 
men on a Communications job? 
These beams are leak proof, any- 
how.” 

“They don’t think so. Twenty- 
three big ‘waves’ coming our way, in- 
deed! If that’ll fool anybody. I’m 
Mickey Rooney.” 

Clark looked at him with disfavor. 
“Don’t say that, even in fun. If I 
thought there was the slightest 
chance of it, and I was shut up in 
here with you, I’d open the sea 
cocks!” 

“Are there any?” inquired Chick. 

“Not a sign of 1ST Gypsy Rose 
today,” observed Chick after wiping 
and peering through the last of the 
four thick bull’s-eye ports. 

“She’ll be back,” said Clark in a 



pessimistic tone. “She loves you.** 
He spat from his bunk and hit the 
bucket under the chair with neat 
exactitude. 

Chick shuddered at the sound. 
“How could she? Through an inch 
of steel, I mean?” 

“She must; she doesn’t hang 
around any other fort. They’d re- 
port her. According to regulations!” 
he added, pointedly. 

“It’s nice of you, but maybe she 
just loves the fort; very likely it has 
more sex appeal than the others,” 
said Chick. 

“It’s your aura!” 

Chick sat down at the controls. 

“I think I’ll fish around with the 
beam for a minute and see if I can 
pick her up.” 

Clark stretched his long legs and 
yawned. “ ’Sawful,” he murmured, 
“narcolepsy is an occupational dis- 
ease down here.” His voice trailed 
off and left a soft snore in its place. 

“Hey!” yelled Chick. “She’s on 
the bottom!” 

“Huh? We are? Oh. Oh, yes,” 
Clark muttered. “Your fish. Jus* 
wants to sleep. Me, too. Bright 
fish.” He rolled over and faced the 
wall. 

“No, wake up! Whales don’t sleep 
on the bottom. She’s layin’ still — 
something’s wrong with her!” 

“Not at all,” protested Clark, 
drowsily. “You don’t have to have 
anything wrong with you to want to 
lie down on a nice, soft sandbank 
and take a nap. You’re unnatural.” 

“But maybe a destroyer found her 
and dumped an ash can on her,” an- 
guished Chick. 

“Good riddance. If anybody 
found out w T e’ve been letting that 
bimbo zoom around playing sub- 
marine, we’d get the firing squad. 
Read the Manual! ‘ — that there may 
be no possibility of mistaken idea- 



KLYSTRON FORT 



55 



tity.’ And pipe down.” He pulled 
his coverall collar higher around his 
ears. 

Chick gnawed a fingernail. “There 
hasn’t been an enemy ship this far 
over in months. Nothing happens 
and we sit here and freeze slowly. 
They’ve got insulating lining down 
to Eleven. But it ain’t supposed to 
get cold south of Halifax.” 

No reply. 

“I’m going to be a pacifist and get 
a nice, warm concentration camp.” 
Still no reply. Chick tried once 
more. 

“These ultraviolet content lights 
are supposed to keep us tanned and 
full of vitamins. Hell, you got to 
keep so bundled up to dodge pneu- 
monia that nothing tans but your 
nose!” Snores answered. 

“ Bzzt-bzz-z :/” said the annun- 
ciator. 

Chick, nodding in the chair, sat 
up and threw the switch. Clark 
rolled over on one elbow. 

“Fort 9! Fort 9! Supply Ship 
Polaris calling Fort 9!” 

“Go ahead, Polaris 

“Skipper wants to talk to you; 
wait a minute.” A click and then 
an annoyed voice: “Nine? Hello, 

hello. Nine?” 

“Yes, sir,” admitted Chick. 

“Mr. Clark?” 

“He’s right here, sir!” 

Clark took Chick’s place in the 
chair. “Lieutenant Commander 
Clark speaking, sir.” 

“Commander Lloyd, Mr. Clark. 
I just saw a whale up here. I’d have 
sent a boat after it, but I’ve got an 
idea.” 

“Yes, captain?” 

“I’ve been intending to get a spare 
tug and make up a — uh — you know, 
but I’ve been too rushed; ’sbeen im- 
possible. My orders give me a good 
deal of latitude, and — uh — I had a 



possibility for the end of the week, 
but how about the whale if it con- 
tinues down your way? Got to get 
the nuisance, anyway, and if you can 
— uh — handle it, any — uh — ship 

would be easy, I should say.” 

“Why, I imagine it can be done.” 
He glanced at Chick who was squat- 
ting Turk-fashion in his bunk. “Very 
erratic path, I’m afraid, sir, but pos- 
sible at reasonable range. A good- 
sized whale?” 

“Very big. Light-colored, too, al- 
most white. Saw it about forty miles 
north of you on our way up here. 
Surprised it hadn’t gotten in the 
beam. We’ll be at Ten in a couple 
of hours, and won’t try to get to you 
before morning. Which reminds me: 
take a wide sweep for other shipping 
before you — uh — try it!” 

“Yes, captain, I’ll check thor- 
oughly before any action.” 

“Very well, Mr. Clark. Carry on!” 
The connection was broken. 

Clark spun around and said: 
“Sorry, Chick. Guess that means 
curtains for Gypsy Rose.” 
“Curtains — how?” 

“That gadget,” he nodded at the 
canvas-covered cube, “is a plotting 
machine. Another rumbatron built 
in that works in tandem with any 
one of our beams. You remember 
my mentioning oversized ocean- 
going torpedoes? There are two of 
them in jury-rigged tubes below. 
This is a war and if this pans out, 
half the shore patrol can be released 
for convoy duty.” 

“If it’s that important, why 
haven’t they made a point of trying 
it before?” 

“Well, I had a battle getting this 
installation, even after inshore trials. 
Nobody with a big say is very sold 
on it yet- — claim small-scale experi- 
mental work doesn’t approximate 
service conditions. Sorry. Gotta 
hunt up Gypsy Rose, now.” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



66 



“Yeah, I suppose so,” Chick ad- 
mitted morosely. “Say!” 

“Huh?” 

“An hour and a half ago she was 
on the bottom thirty-five miles or 
more inshore. How the devil could 
she get forty miles north of here in 
that length of time?” 

Clark stared at him in silence for 
a moment. Then: “Mr. Taylor, 

that’s a very good question!” 

“Chick, we’re in a sling.” Clark 
took off the headset and switched off 
the listening apparatus. “There’s a 
whale-sized object moving around 
with no motor noise or spark about 
forty miles north. There’s a whale- 
sized object laying on the banks 
about the same distance inshore. 
Are you sure it’s not a plotted 
wreck?” 

“Positive. I looked it up.” 

Clark blinked and inspected his 
fingernails. “Did you listen for mo- 
tors last night, while your superior 
was asleep when he should have been 
supervising?” 

“Absolutely! But . . . well, not 
very long,” admitted Chick sheep- 
ishly. 

"You’re sure whales don’t lie on 
the bottom?” 

“I’m sure I read that they don’t. 
Maybe it wasn’t that I didn’t listen 
long enough. Maybe right then he 
had his motors shut off so he could 
listen.” 

“Maybe.” Clark scowled and 
combed his short beard with his fin- 
gers. “We don’t know it’s a sub. 
But how are we going to find out 
without calling a chaser patrol? And 
what do we say if it is? Son, think 
fast!” 

“Say!” Chick brightened. “That 
convoy your friend is with will be in 
there in less than an hour. He could 
get ’em!” 

“That’s a last resort. A destroyer 



can’t go on a wild sub hunt miles 
behind the forts without some ex- 
plaining. Come again.” Clark 
chewed on a thumb, then fished for 
his tobacco. “Of course, it might lie 
right there and wait for outgoing 
ships, instead of sinking empties.” 
He bit off a huge chew. 

“But we can’t take a chance,” 
Chick moaned. He drummed his 
feet against a bunk brace and said: 
“We gotta tell them!” 

“You and your dear, damned 
fish!” Clark slumped in the chair, 
chewing slowly with his eyes shut, 
then abruptly sat up. 

“Say! Gypsy Rose may come in 
handy yet — I’ve got the start of an 
idea.” He snapped on the communi- 
cator and yelled: “Get the cover off 
the plotter! Take a fix on the con- 
voy and get one on the sub — to an 
inch!” He spun the loop aerial and 
started calling: 

“ Cestus [ Klystron Fort 9 calling 
Cestus — ” 

“Hey, I can’t work this infernal 
machine!” complained Chick. Un- 
der the canvas he had found an 
affair that looked like a more-than- 
usually complicated adding machine, 
inset with a number of dials and a 
large ground-glass panel, e* *hed with 
fine graduations. 

“Oh, use the regular beam, but 
make it close! Klystron 9 calling 
Cestus — ” 

“Go ahead, Nine,” invited the an- 
nunciator. 

“Lieutenant Commander Clark. I 
want to talk to Captain Krantz, 
right away!” 

“Yes, sir; I’ll connect you with the 
bridge.” 

Chick fussed with the beam con- 
trols and checked each “beep” from 
the telltale, then picked up a pencil. 
“Got the sub. These verniers are 
slow when you’re in a hurry!” 



KLYSTRON FORT 



57 




“Yeah, Tom,” boomed the annun- 
ciator. “What’s on your mind?” 

“Dutch, look! I'm in a spot and 
you can do me a big favor, if you 
will.” 

“Sure, if it’s not too much against 
regulations.” 

“Where are you in the convoy?” 

“Astern, why?” 

Clark glanced at Chick. “Fix for 



him!” he commanded. Then: 
“Dutch, could you drop a can on a 
whale — two or three cans? If it 
wasn’t very far off your course, I 
mean?” 

“Yes. Supposed to.” 

“Just a second, then. I got you 
one.” He clamped his hand over 
the “mike” and asked: “Where are 

they. Chick?” 

Chick put a last dot on a projec- 
tion map and put down a ruler. 
“About eight miles east of southeast 
of the sub.” 

“Oke.” He uncovered the “mike.” 
“Dutch, the whale’s about eight 
miles west of northwest from you. 
Could you alter course enough to 
touch that?” 

“Why not? They’re empty — go- 
ing no place. Get to work on your 
plaything.” He gave course and 
speed, and Chick took them down as 
Clark repeated. Then Clark said: 

“Half a mo’ and I’ll have it. You’re 
a lifesaver!” He made shooing mo- 
tions at Chick. “One side and watch 
a man work.” 

Chick bounced out of the chair 
and Clark sat down and rubbed his 
hands, then threw a switch at .the 
head of the adding machine. “This 
one puts a new set of verniers and 
the new beam to work. It’s a lot 
finer for accurate work. Now we 
feed in course and speed.” He 
punched keys. “And our sub” — 
more keys — “and that beautiful lit- 
tle clock affair gives us our time in- 
terval for conjunction. Hm-m-m. 
Duddly-duddle. Or does it? This 
is a little in reverse of what it was 
meant for.” 

The telltale had changed to a low 
whistle, in the place of its usual beep. 

Chick looked baffled and made en- 
couraging sounds while Clark 
frowned at the machine. 

“Oh, yes!” Clark brightened and 
altered the set-up. The steady wliis- 



58 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



tie broke into a series of short tweets. 

“Now it’s following automatically 
— as long as it sounds the dots. The 
time is — Hm-m-m — ” He grabbed 
the “mike” and shouted: “Got it, 

Dutch! Are you still there?” 

“Sure. No place to go. Let’s 
have it.” 

“It’s now 8:17 a. m. Right? At 
8:49 you alter course to three-two- 
eight degrees. Stay at fourteen knots 
and let fly 9: 12 on the dot, then two 
more at thirty-second intervals. 
Right?” 

“Just three? A few hundred 
pounds of high explosive seems 
hardly enough. But O. K.; alter to 
three-two-eight at 8: 49 and bingo at 
9: 12. Dear me, only three. What 
a whale!” 

Clark grinned and winked at 
Chick. “Oh, and you stay to star- 
board of your convoy. Then high- 
tail it for shore as fast as you can.” 
His figure began to lose its tenseness. 
“One more thing, Dutch. Please 
keep the deck and keep your eyes 
open. I may yell for you quick, if 
my idea doesn’t work.” 

“What? Say, do we get this whale 
or don’t we?” 

“I’ll tell you when I see you. In- 
cidentally, you are going to see this 
whale yourself. If anyone asks you, 
it’s a very large white one.” 

“Me seeing white whales? Mobey 
Dick’s dead and you’re drunk!” 
screeched the loud-speaker with 
tinny indignation. 

"No, I’m on the level. You can 
prove by Commander Lloyd on the 
Polaris that there’s a white whale in 
this region. But don’t fix the spot 
too exactly. ’Bye now. If every- 
thing jells, you w r on’t hear from me 
till I see you ashore.” 

Connections broken, Clark 
turned off the new plotting machine 
and hurled himself into his bunk. 



“Chick, glue the beam on that sub 
and leave it there! * Better take a 
sweep out front first. And move 
one of the bottom beams more up 
to level, to fill in.” 

The low, steady bee-e-p of the tell- 
tale filled the room as Chick set the 
beam. He turned down the volume. 

“Lordy, lordy! First time I’ve 
ever been warm in this can!” said 
Clark, mopping his face. He raised 
his head and arched a high trajectory 
shot at the bucket. 

Chick chanted: “Give the man a 

see-gar! But what happens next? 
He won’t hit anything with those 
directions.” 

“Nope. Don’t want him to. Have 
to explain oil and wreckage if he did. 
Not sure he could. Look, you’re a 
sub commander. You hear ships in- 
bound. Then, inshore but near, it 
gives three fast ash cans that shake 
you up plenty. Then, you hear the 
ships hightail for shore. You figure 
to lie low r and keep motors off. Then 
you get to thinking. Why? Why 
shoot and then run? Afraid of some- 
thing, obviously. But you can’t leave 
without motors, and maybe some- 
one’s coming out to see about it all. 
Maybe they’re onto you!” Clark 
scowled threateningly at Chick 
“You worry. You by-and-by blow 
tanks and drift up to see if a de- 
stroyer is lying to, waiting. Hah! 
Nothing in sight. What do you do 
then?” he bellowed. 

“Why, I’d resign,” said Chick, 
weakly. “You’ve scared me.” 
“Exactly. Clear sea — troubled 
future: you move to the next county. 
I hope. Maybe he takes after the 
convoy right away. How do you 
feel about some more coffee?” 

“I need it; I’ll even go so far as to 
make it.” 

Clark rolled onto his back and 
looked solemnly at the toes of his 
mukluks. “If he goes after them, I’m 



KLYSTRON FORT 



59 



afraid it’ll be necessary that I un- 
leash ray super-super to get him.” 

“We get him? How do we get him 
in there?” Chick inquired in amaze- 
ment, coffeepot forgotten in one 
hand. 

“With that television set-up I was 
telling you about last night. I just 
thought of a way to fool the sea- 
gulls.” 

“Bu-but . . . but we haven’t got 
any balloons or television sets!” 
screamed the baffled Chick. 

“That’s where the seagulls come 
in,” confided Clark. “A little labo- 
ratory work does wonders — an inocu- 
lation of parrot blood and truth 
serum gets accurate information!” 

“Owoo!” howled Chick, brandish- 
ing the pot. “Keep away! Seventy 
feet under water with a raving 
maniac!” 

“But not a whale lover!” said 
Clark with simple dignity. 

The steady drone of the telltale 
did not change as the minute hand 
edged past the 9: 12 mark. Nor at 
the 9:30 mark. Nor by ten o’clock. 

Clark sat clutching the mike, 
while beside him crouched Chick, 
eyes shut as he listened to the ear- 
phones with strained attention. 
Eleven o’clock. In response to a 
nudge, Chick said: 

“Not a thing. Maybe it’s too far.” 

Clark worried a finger and said: 
“He can’t just sit there!” 

The telltale fell silent! 

“Ah-h!” breathed Clark. He threw 
the switch on the new installation 
and pounced on the control knobs. 
In a second, the telltale gave a pro- 
longed twee-e, then broke into regu- 
lar dots of sound as the instrument 
scanned the progression of the object 
on which its twin beams rested. 

“He’s surfacing; see this? And 



that’s why the speed and course 
aren’t working — they’re for horizon- 
tal moves.” 

Chick tore off the headset and 
both men stared eagerly at the di- 
vided ground glass. Minutes passed. 
“How long are you going to look 
around, U-boat Captain Taylor?” 
asked Clark. 

“Not long; I’m puzzled and kinda 
nervous. Maybe I go north, maybe 
I head this way,” answered Chick, 
grandly. 

“Come, come, Heinrich! Remem- 
ber they been catching all your pals 
over here for months; you don’t 
know how!” 

“Yeah. O. K., Svengali. I head 
east.” 

At that moment, the spot of light 
in the upper half of the ground glass 
began to jerk, in time to the dots of 
sound from the telltale. It became 
a leaping pulse that reached to a 
line marked “two,” then “three,” and 
continued to slid up until each flick 
touched “seven.” 

“You’re hired! Ever been to 
Hialeah?” Clark patted Chick’s 
back with a heavy hand. 

“Yeah, but I only work on subs. 
Stop it, you’re collapsing me!” 

In the lower half of the glass, a 
tenuous needle of light hung steady, 
parallel to the red line that marked 
the direction of the beams. 

“Boy, what a machine!” crowed 
Clark. “Never worked better in the 
shop. That white line is the course. 
Doing seven knots.” 

He held up a finger. “Listen!” 

He punched a key at the top of 
the board. Over the hiss of the air 
unit and the dots from the telltale, 
there was audible a whirring sound 
from below. It stopped, then gave 
another second’s whir and stopped 
again. 



60 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“Those are the tubes swinging into 
line. I sweat blood co-ordinating 
that outfit. As long as she’s tracking 
up here, the tubes keep correcting as 
much or little as necessary to keep 
on the target.” He rubbed an affec- 
tionate hand over the side of the 
softly buzzing machine. “I could 
feed in the data through the key- 
board if the scanner went out and 
we had to keep the beams on by 
hand. How about a sandwich?” 
“It’s visionary,” Chick disparaged. 
“Too complicated!” 

“Not at all! You ought to see the 
army’s aircraft finders for real com- 
plexity. They try to throw in enough 
machinery to get the same results 
out of a single beam, hand trained, 
to run their computing junk. But 
this baby’s accurate! You could 
adapt it to fire control with a high- 
speed scanner, and outdo anything 
they’ve got. Y’see, the twin-beam 
idea makes it veer back toward 
whichever beam is still on, as soon 
as one slides off.” He pulled his 
knees up to his chest and spun 
around and around in the chair. 
“Yeow! How about that coffee, 
again? Gotta celebrate. He won’t 
be out here for hours.” 

“Yeah, man!” said Chick. 

“Say, that was darn near the end 
of the sugar. That’s serious!” Chick 
hefted the nearly empty sack. 

“Enough till morning, isn’t there? 
Polaris’W have our new stuff.” Clark 
finished wiping the cups and stuck 
them on their hooks. 

Chick wandered over and studied 
the dials on the plotter. 

“Won’t be long, now. Still hold- 
ing seven — no, it’s about eight. 
Could they figure speed by Doppler 
effect on this beam?” 

“Hm-m-m, I guess so,” said Clark. 
He rolled down his sleeves. “Hate 



to do it, though. Velocities on boats 
are awfully small, comparatively. 
This interference on the bounce-back 
is a lot easier. Fine thing, inter- 
ference.” 

Chick gave a start of alarm. “Hey! 
Look here; it’s coming out of a hell 
of a depth — almost a hundred feet! 
How do we hit it with torpedoes? 
I mean, we can’t get at them to set 
depth.” 

Clark grinned. “What do you 
suggest?” 

“Why — get them to ‘surface.’ ” 
Chick scratched his head medita- 
tively. “Call them up and tell them 
we’re Ostend and just found out 
there’s a submarine net — Hey! I’ve 
got it! Let’s turn the loop their way 
and call on commercial wave and yell 
SOS and that we’re the Empress of 
Burma disabled with a cracked shaft 
right above here, and then hang up 
quick!” 

Clark whooped. “Subtle as a 
marine! Boy, what psychology!” 

“That would even explain why 
they couldn’t hear any motor noise,” 
Chick defended in an injured tone. 

“Phooey! And they claim the 
Teutonic mind is heavy-handed. 
’Sail right, though. Your idea is mag- 
nificent, but not necessary. We 
aren’t so deep but what they could 
pack a journal bearing to hold, and 
run a correction set-up.” Clark in- 
dicated two small slotted disks inset 
in the floor. “Those run right into 
the tubes. I didn’t want them, be- 
cause we were going to shoot at a tow 
at a predetermined depth, but you 
know the navy; even these big ‘fish’ 
are built with depth selectors, so we 
depth-select, want to or not!” 

“ ’S wonderful, wonderful!” ad- 
mired Chick. “Such efficiency! I’m 
full of awe and coffee. Five cups 
since noon, I think.” He wandered 
over and collapsed in his bunk. 



KLYSTRON FORT 



61 



Clark sat down and fished for his 
tobacco. “He's heading a little north 
of here. Looks like about twelve 
thousand yards, closest.” 

“Whyn’t you figure for sure?” 

“If baby here can’t figure it, we 
can’t hit him, anyway. He’s not the 
Queen Mary! No use bothering our 
little heads. Gives me an idea, 
though. I still have to fire the thing. 
Maybe so fix it to compute most ad- 
vantageous angle, course, ’n’ so forth, 
and fire itself!” 

“He’s off! D’ya think you can 
train it to have a proper reverence 
for friendly ships in the background? 
And is it modest enough to know 
when it’s licked? By distance, I 
mean?” 

Clark wagged a foot in time to the 
steady tee-tee-tee of the telltale. 
“Could be done. Think I’ll skip it, 
though.” 

“All clear to the horizon!” Clark 
switched the beam back to the scan- 
ner. The “dotting” resumed. “About 
one more minute,” he breathed. 

Chick fidgeted nervously. “I hope 
your depth set is right. Were they 
ever calibrated by test so far down?” 



“Don’t know. They’re marked 
for it.” 

On the lower section of the ground 
glass, the needle of light crept to- 
ward a right angle with the red line 
that marked the beam path. 

“Almost thirteen thousand yards!” 
said Clark in a low voice. Then: 
“Here we go!” 

He spun open a valve in a wall 
pipe. “Air!” There was a faint 
whisper below. He flipped out a 
small plunger and withdrew his 
hands, saying: 

“Now!” 

At the second motion, there was a 
dull, sighing cough. The whole fort 
jerked slightly. 

“Cross yourself, son! Cross your- 
self and pray that fifty knots gets it 
there before he changes his mind and 
course!” 

Then Clark looked at the inset 
clock and said: “A little better than 
eight — almost nine minutes. What 
a long time!” 

The lines on the glass narrowed to 
a right angle, and then began to 
widen again, almost imperceptibly, 
as the minutes ticked by. Both men 




$ 5 REWARD 



tor Probak Jr. Quickies (like on# 
abovai accepted for publication. 
Address — Probak Jr.. Bon 2131 
Boston. Mass. 



One Man Tells Another ... Try 
Easy- Shaving PROBAK Jr. Blades 
. . . Twenty For Only A Quarter! 



RECEPTACLE FOR 
USED BLADES INSIDE! 



68 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



were silent at first. Clark moved 
restlessly in the chair and finally said, 
almost to himself: 

“Maybe I ought to let the other 
one go, too!” 

Chick swiveled his eyes from the 
glass to the other man’s face. “Long 
range, isn’t it?” 

“Oh — not really.” Clark toyed 
nervously with the other plunger, 
then yanked his hand away. “No, 
damned if I do! Not unless it’s a 
miss. This machine’s accurate!” He 
leaned to a side and spat. 

The telltale sang its steady song. 
Chick tinkered for a moment and 
then spoke. “I can hear him all 
right. Hitting on all umpty.” 

Clark glanced up and said: “Hey, 
get those earphones oft! Turn it off. 
Knock you loose from your ears!” 
He turned back to the instruments 
and said very slowly: “Here . . . 

we . . . go . . . again!” 

The telltale abruptly went silent. 
Only the soft hiss of the air unit and 
the even softer buzz of the plotter 
broke the silence. Seconds ticked by. 
Then there was a heavy jarring 
thump, half sound and half actual 
shake. Things jangled and rattled 
in every cupboard. 

The two men stared at each other 
with widening grins. Clark jumped 
up and began to dance a slow waltz 
with the air. Chick beat the ear- 
phones against the table and sang 
loudly: 

“ The old gray mare. 

She ain’t what she used to be, 

Ain’t what she used t’be. 

Oh-h, the old gray mare — ” 

Order restored, Clark said jubi- 
lantly: “We get out of here now! 

Back to the sunlight! Cigarettes! 



The test severe is what we have 
passed — nobody can say this didn’t 
approximate service traditions!” 

He hurled himself back into the 
chair and began to rock violently. 
“Coffee, man, coffee! We celebrate 
again!” 

Chick laughed and filled the pot. 
“I betcha you don’t tell anybody 
which way the sub was going!” He 
swung out the tiny table and set out 
cups and spoons. 

Clark said grandly: “When you 

finish that, boy, get me Captain 
Lloyd on the Polaris! Then get me — 
Whoa! Hey!” 

The little fort lurched wildly. 
Cups, slippers, books, sugar and men 
slid in a heap against the wall. The 
coffeepot spewed its contents over 
all. 

Clark sat up and began to howl 
with rage. 

“That triple-damned, oversized, 
albino goldfish! That infernal, 
blankety-blank — Oh, I haven’t the 
words! So help me, I’m going to 
torpedo that beast if it’s the last 
thing I ever do!” 

The fort lurched again, the oppo- 
site direction, and the whole dishev- 
eled pile slid smoothly for the other 
wall. Clark fought madly to get at 
the instrument table, while Chick, 
laughing helplessly, clutched at him 
and held him back. 

“You can’t kill Gypsy Rose now! 
She was our alibi!” 

Clark staggered to his feet and 
shook a clenched fist over his head. 

“All right! All right! But if we 
weren’t leaving as fast as a relief 
can get here, not even an order from 
the President of the United States 
could save that . . . that . . . owoo 
. . . that fish!” 



THE END. 



63 




By Robert Heinlein 



Part Two of three parts. The tale of a race of 
long-lived humans driven out by the hates and 
envies that the normal, short-lived feel — 



Illustrated by Rogers 



The beginnings of the upheaval were 
laid, innocently enough, in the latter part 
of the nineteenth century, when a rich old 
man who feared and hated death was told 
the only way to assure long life was to se- 



lect the right grandparents. It was too late 
for him to do that — but he determined to 
do it for others. Establishing a Founda- 
tion that would economically encourage 
the mating of people descended from long - 




ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



M 

lived ancestors, he established the Families 
— Methuselah’s Children. 

The families of the long-lived, united by 
their mutual interest in the Foundation, 
grew into a tight but secret group scat- 
tered all over the United States as years, 
decades, finally centuries passed. The life 
spans of the children of these matings of 
the long-lived grew longer and longer as 
the generations passed, and still the secret 
was maintained. Members of the Families 
"died” in one location, to reappear else- 
where under new names — and with a dif- 
ferent, much younger, supposed age. For 
they lived one hundred twenty-five — one 
hundred fifty — even two hundred and more 
years normally. 

Tired of the secrecy, the uncertainty, 
the shifting, they decided finally to reveal 
themselves — or a certain number of them- 
selves — to the rest of the world for what 
they were, and see what result there would 
be. 

The result was disaster, and this is the 
tale of the disaster. In 8125 the situation 
reached the crisis. The normal, short-lived 
people wanted life, the long, long life of 
the Families. They would not — and psycho- 
logically could not — believe that there was 
no selfishly withheld secret treatment, in- 
jection or medicine that accounted for their 
two-hundred-year life spans. T o admit that 
inheritance from long-lived ancestors was 
the way, and the only way, to long life for- 
ever denied that boon to the short-lived 
people who wanted it. The Methuselahs 
were a living, taunting proof that long life 
could be had — but they couldn’t have it. 

Utterly unconvinced, and unconvincible, 
they demanded that the government force 
the revealed members of the Families to 
give out the imagined — and nonexistent / — 
“ secret ” of long life. 

The Families, having no such secret to 
reveal, are in turmoil as the rising anger 
of the mob forces the government to de- 
clare all of them enemies of society, sub- 
ject to arrest. The scattered members of 
the Families flee to temporary shelter in 
hidden centers, one of which is under Lake 
Michigan. Some, unable to escape, are 
caught and questioned by the government 
Proctors. Under truth-drug, they reveal the 
true total numbers of the Families, deny 
the existence of any secret — but aren’t be- 
lieved! — and- tell of the hidden refuge. 

Administrator Slayton- Ford, head of the 
government, is wise enough to recognize 
two things; that there is no secret , and 
that nothing can possibly convince his peo- 
ple that there isn’t. He gets in telephonic 



communication with Zaccur Barstow, head 
of the Families, and asks him. what he can 
suggest in view of the irresolvable situa- 
tion. Lazarus Long, bom in 1912 and an 
adventurer for the whole two hundred and 
thirteen years of his life, has made a sug- 
gestion. In an orbit around Earth now is a 
giant spaceship, built and just finished, de- 
signed for a trip to Alpha Centauri. It is a 
successor to the lost Vanguard which van- 
ished on the same trip some years before. 
(The Ship of "Universe.”) Long proposes 
that the Families steal or somehow make 
away with that ship and seek a new planet 
in another system. Ford agrees that’s the 
only possible out. But Long points out that 
the people of Earth will have to be de- 
ceived, or they won’t release the Families. 
The Families must be deceived, or they 
won’t have the necessary swift action and 
unanimity of movement. 

Ford, then, must arrest all the Families, 
confine them in a concentration camp, and 
let his short-lived normal people snarl 
around the camp, or the Families one hun- 
dred thousand members won’t all move 
when Long and Barstow say, "Move!” 
Barstow and his administrators must, in 
turn, keep the fact that Ford is actually 
helping them a strict secret — or the inertia 
of human nature will make his none-too- 
ready followers refuse to believe the danger 
of a terrible civil war. Andrew Jaclcson 
Libbey — "Slipstick” Libbey of "Misfit,” the 
mathematical genius — believes they can 
develop a method of driving the giant ship 
that will be fast enough to get them to an- 
other star within their own lifetimes. 

But the great danger is that some hint 
of the proposed double-sided double cross 
— for their own mutual good — will leak. out 
to either the normal short-lived people, or 
to the long-lived. If that happens, all hell 
will brealc loose I 

They stood around in groups, fret- 
fully. “I can’t understand it,” the 
Resident Archivist was saying to the 
worried circle around her. “The 
Senior Trustee never interfered with 
my work before. But he came burst- 
ing into my office with that Lazarus 
Long behind him and ordered me 
out.” 

“What did he say?” asked one of 
her listeners. 

“Well, 1 said, ‘May I do you a 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



65 



service, Zaccur Barstow?’ and he 
said, 4 Yes, you may. Get out and 
take your girls with you.’ Not a 
word of ordinary courtesy.” 

“A lot you’ve got to complain 
about,” said another voice gloomily. 
Eyes turned to him. It was Cecil 
Hedrick, of the Johnson Family, 
communication engineer. “Lazarus 
Long paid a call on me, and he was 
a damned sight less than polite.” 
“What did he do?” 

“He walks into the communica- 
tion cell and tells me that he is going 
to take over the board — Zaccur’s or- 
ders. I told him that nobody could 
touch my burners but me and my 
operators, and anyhow, where was 
his authority? Do you know what 
he did? You won’t believe it, but 
he pulled a blaster on me.” 

“You don’t mean it!” 

“I certainly do. I tell you, that 
man is dangerous. He ought to go 
up for psycho adjustment. He’s an 
atavism if I ever heard of one.” 

Lazarus Loxg’s face stared out of 
the screen into that of the Adminis- 
trator. “Got it all canned?” he de- 
manded. 

Ford cut the switch on the fac- 
simulator on his control desk. “Got 
it all,” he confirmed. 

“O. K.,” the image of Lazarus re- 
plied. “I’m clearing.” The screen 
went dead. Ford spoke into his in- 
teroffice circuit. 

“Have the High Chief Provost re- 
port to me at once — in corpus.” 

That official showed up with an 
expression on his lined face in which 
annoyance struggled with self-disci- 
pline. He was having the busiest 
night of his career, yet his political 
superior had sent word to him to re- 
port in the flesh. What the devil 
were visiphones for, anyway, he 
thought angrily — -and wondered why 



he had ever taken up police work as 
a career. 

“You sent for me, sir?” He sa- 
luted with unnecessary punctilious- 
ness. 

“Yes, thank you. Here.” Ford 
pressed a stud and let the exposed 
spool of film from the facsimulator 
pop up into his hand. “This is a 
complete list of the Howard Fami- 
lies. Arrest them.” 

“Yes, sir.” The police official ac- 
cepted the spool and stared at it. 
He was debating the advisability of 
asking Ford where he had gotten it. 
It certainly had not come through 
the office of the Provost — did the 
Old Man have an intelligence service 
which left him out of the circuit? 

“It’s alphabetical, but keyed geo- 
graphically,” the Administrator was 
saying; “after you run it through 
the sorters, send the — No, bring 
the original back to me. You can 
stop the psycho interviews, too,” he 
added. “Just bring them in and 
hold them. I’ll give you further in- 
structions later.” 

The High Chief Provost decided 
this was not a good time to show his 
curiosity. “Yes, sir.” 

As he departed, Ford turned to the 
desk and sent word that he wanted 
to see the chiefs of the bureaus of 
land resources and of transportation 
control. As an afterthought, he 
added the chief of the bureau of con- 
sumption logistics. 

Back at the Seat of the Families 
there was met a rump session of the 
trustees. Barstow was conspicu- 
ously absent. “I don’t understand 
it and I don’t like it,” Andrew 
Weatheral was saying. “I could un- 
derstand Zaecur deciding to delay 
reporting to the Meeting, but I had 
expected that he would call the trus- 
tees together for a conference imme- 
diately. I certainly did expect that. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



m 

What do you make of it, Philip?” 

Philip Hardy chewed his lip be- 
fore replying. “I don’t know. Zac- 
cur’s got his head on his shoulders, 
but it certainly seems to me that he 
should advise with us. Has he 
spoken with you, Justin?” 

“No, he has not,” Justin Foote an- 
swered frigidly, 

“Well, what should we do? We 
can’t very well call him in and de- 
mand an accounting unless we are 
prepared to oust him from office if 
he refuses. I, for one, am reluctant 
to do that.” 

They* were still discussing it when 
the proctors arrived. 

Lazarus heard the commotion 
and correctly interpreted it — no feat, 
since he had information his breth- 
ren lacked. He was aware rationally 
that he should submit peacefully and 
conspicuously to arrest — set a good 
example; but to do so ran cross- 
grained to deeper, older strata in his 
habit patterns. 

He delayed the inevitable by 
ducking into the nearest ’fresher. 

It seemed to be a dead end. He 
glanced at the air duet. No, too 
small. Absent-mindedly, he fum- 
bled in his pouch for a cigarette. 
His hand found no cigarettes, but 
did encounter an object which he 
failed to recognize by touch. He 
pulled it out. It was the brassard 
he had “borrowed” from the proctor 
in Chicago. 

When the proctor on point of the 
mop-up squad covering that wing of 
the Seat stuck his head into the 
’fresher occupied by Lazarus, he 
found that he had been anticipated. 
“Nobody in here,” announced Laza- 
rus. “I’ve checked it.” 

The real proctor seemed surprised 
but unsuspicious. “How the devil 
did you get ahead of me?” 

“Around your flank. Stoney 



Island Tunnel and through their air 
vents.” He trusted that the official 
would be unaware that there was no 
Stoney Island Tunnel. “Got a ciga- 
rette?” 

“Huh? This is no time to catch 
a smoke.” 

“Shucks,” said Lazarus, “my le- 
gate is a good mile away.” 

“Maybe so,” the proctor replied, 
“but mine is right back there. You’ll 
be wigged.” 

“He is, eh? Well, skip it — I’ve 
got something to tell him, anyhow.” 
He started to move on past the man, 
but the proctor did not get out of 
the way. He was glancing curiously 
at Lazarus’ kilt. Lazarus had turned 
it inside out; the blue lining made a 
fair imitation of a proetor’s service 
uniform, but Lazarus was uncom- 
fortably aware that it differed in 
minor details. 

“What station did you say you 
were from?” inquired the proctor. 

“This one,” said Lazarus, and 
planted a short jab precisely under 
the man’s breastbone. His coach 
in rough and tumble had once ex- 
plained to him that a solar-plexus 
blow was harder to dodge than one 
to the jaw. The coach had been 
dead since the strike of 1960, but his 
knowledge lived on. 

Lazarus felt more like a cop with 
the new kilt he had acquired and 
with a bandolier of paralysis bombs 
slung under his left armpit. Besides, 
the proctor’s kilt fitted him better 
than the one he had borrowed from 
Edmund Hardy. 

To the right the passageway led 
only to the Sanctuary and further 
dead ends. He followed it to the left 
instead, which meant that he must 
encounter the superior officer of his 
unconscious benefactor. The pas- 
sage gave into a moderately large 
hall which was crowded with Mem- 
bers herded into a group by politely 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



67 



insistent proctors. He ignored his 
kin and moved on past them to the 
harassed legate. “Sir,” he reported, 
saluting smartly, “there’s a sort of 
a hospital back there. You’ll need 
fifty ’r sixty stretchers to evacuate 
it.” 

“Tell your legate,” the officer di- 
rected him. “We’ve got our hands 
full here.” 

Lazarus did not answer as 
promptly as he might have. He had 
caught Mary Risling’s eye in the 
crowd. She stared at him and looked 
away. “Can’t tel! him,” he said, 
catching himself. “Not available.” 

“Well, don’t bother me with it. 
Take the message outside.” 

“Yes, sir!” He moved away, swag- 
gering a little, his thumbs hooked in 
the band of his kilt. He was some 
distance away in the passage leading 
to the transbelt running to the Wau- 
kegan outlet when he heard shouts 
behind him. Two proctors were run- 
ning to overtake him. 

He stopped at the archway enter- 
ing the transbelt tunnel and waited 
for them. “What’s the trouble?” he 
asked conversationally as they came 
within speaking distance. 

“The legate — ” began one. But 
he got no further; a para bomb tin- 
kled and popped at his feet. He had 
just time to look surprised before 
the radiations wiped any expression 
from his face. His mate fell across 
him. 

Lazarus looked cautiously around 
the shoulder of the arch, after count- 
ing seconds up to fifteen — “Number 
one jet fire! Number two jet fire! 
Number three jet fire!” — and adding 
a couple of jets over fifteen to make 
absolutely certain that the paralyz- 
ing effect had completely died away. 
It had been a near thing, nearer than 
he liked. He had not been able to 
duck quite fast enough, and his left 

AST— 5h 



foot still tingled from exposure. 

The still figures reassured him. 
Perhaps they had not wanted him 
in his proper person — perhaps no one 
had given him away, but it was just 
as well not to know. 

He was damn well certain of one 
thing, he told himself. It hadn’t 
been Mary Risling who tipped them. 

Fortunately, the transbelt was 
still running. 

It took two more paralysis bombs 
and a couple of hundred words, not 
one of them containing an iota of 
truth, to get him out in the open air. 
But once there and out of immedi- 
ate observation, the brassard and the 
remaining bombs went in his pouch 
and the bandolier landed in the 
depths of a convenient bush. He 
looked up a clothing store in Wau- 
kegan. 

He sat himself down in a sales cu- 
bicle and dialed the code number for 
kilts. He let the pictures of cloth 
designs flicker past his eyes and the 
persuasive voice of the catalogue 
drone on until a pattern showed up 
that was distinctly unmilitary and 
not blue, whereupon he arrested the 
display and punched the combina- 
tion for his size. He noted the price, 
tore out an open-credit voucher from 
his wallet and entered it in the ma- 
chine, pushed the processing switch, 
and enjoyed a smoke while he waited 
for the tailoring to be done. 

The plain blue uniform kilt he 
stuffed in the refuse hopper of the 
cubicle and went on his way, nattily 
and somewhat flamboyantly attired. 
He had not been in Waukegan for 
many years, since before the time of 
the Covenant, in fact, but he. was 
able to locate a modest middle- 
priced rest house without having to 
draw attention to himself by asking 
questions. He punched the board 
for a standard suite, in which he re- 



€8 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



freshed himself with seven hours of 
welcome sleep. 

He breakfasted in the suite, listen- 
ing with half an ear to the news re- 
ceptor, which was a common “chat- 
terbox” installation, without selec- 
tive controls. He was interested, in 
a mild way, in hearing what might 
be reported concerning the raid on 
the Families. It was a detached in- 
terest, as he had already dissociated 
himself from it in his own mind. It 
had been a mistake, he knew, to re- 
sume contact with the Families, and 
he was lucky to be w r ell clear of it 
with his present public persona un- 
impeached. 

A phrase caught his attention: 
“ — including Zaccur Barstow, al- 
leged to be their tribal chief. 

“The prisoners are being trans- 
ported to a reservation in Oklahoma, 
near the ruins of the Okla-Orleans 
road city about twenty-five miles 
east of Harriman Memorial Park. 
The Chief Provost describes it as a 
‘Little Coventry,’ and has issued a 
warning for all atmosphere craft to 
avoid it by ten miles laterally. The 
Administrator could not be reached 
for a statement, but from a usually 
reliable source from within the Ad- 
ministration, w T e are informed that 
the mass arrest was accomplished in 
order to facilitate the investigations 
whereby the Administration expects 
to obtain the so-termed ‘Secret of the 
Howard Families.’ It is believed 
that the drastic action of arresting 
and transporting to imprisonment 
every member of this outlaw group 
will have a salutoi’y effect in break- 
ing down the resistance of their lead- 
ers to the legitimate demands of so- 
ciety. It will bring home to them 
forcibly that the civil rights enjoyed 
by citizens must not be used as a 
cloak from which to damage society 
as a whole. - 

“The chattels and holdings of the 



members of the Howard Families 
have been declared to be subject to 
the Conservator General and will be 
administered by his agents during 
the imprisonment of — ” 

Lazartjs reached out and switched 
it off. It worried him. “Damna- 
tion!” he thought to himself. “Don’t 
worry about things you can’t help.” 
Certainly, he had expected to be ar- 
rested himself, but he had escaped. 
That was that. He could not help 
the Families by looking up a proc- 
tor and turning himself in. Besides, 
he owed the Families nothing; not 
a tarnation thing. 

Anyhow, they were better off all 
arrested at once and quickly, and 
placed under guard, than they would 
have been to be smelled out one at 
a time. The other way they had 
stood a good chance of lynchings, 
even pogroms. Lazarus knew from 
experience how close to the surface 
lay lynch law in even the most civi- 
lized. That was one reason why he 
had suggested the mass arrest — that 
and the fact that the Families 
needed to be in one compact group 
for Barstow and Ford to stand a 
chance of carrying out their scheme. 

But he wondered how Barstow 
was getting along, and what he 
would think of Lazarus’ disappear- 
ance. And Mary Risling — it must 
have been a shock to her when he 
showed up making a noise like a 
proctor. He wished he could 
straighten that out. 

Not that it mattered what Zack 
or Mary thought — they would be 
either dead or light years away very 
soon. A closed book. 

He turned to the phone and called 
the post office. “Captain Aaron 
Sheffield speaking,” he announced, 
and gave his postal number. “Last 
registered with the Goddard Field 
post office. Will you please have my 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



09 



mail sent to — ” He leaned over and 
read aloud the serial number on the 
mail receptacle. 

“Service,” assented the voice of 
the clerk. “Right away, captain.” 

“Thank you.” 

It would take a couple of hours, 
he reflected, for his mail to catch up 
with him. By that time the search 
for him would certainly have lost it- 
self in the distance. He would hire 
a U-push-it and scoot down to — to 
where? What was he going to do 
now? 

He turned several alternatives 
over in his mind and rejected them 
automatically. He came to the 
blank realization that there was 
nothing, from one end of the Solar 
System to the other, that he really 
wanted to do. 

It scared him a little. He had 
once been told, and had been in- 
clined to credit, that a loss of inter- 
est in living marked the true turning 
point in the balance between catabo- 
lism and anabolism — old age. He 
suddenly envied the normal short- 
lived people. At least they could go 
make nuisances of themselves to 
their children. Filial affection was 
not customary among the Members 
of the Families; it was not a feasible 
relationship to maintain for a cen- 
tury or more. And friendship, ex- 
cept between Members, was bound 
to be regarded as a passing and shal- 
low matter. There was no one that 
Lazarus wanted to see. 

Wait a minute, though. Who was 
that planter on Venus? The one 
that knew so many folk songs and 
was so funny when he was drunk? 
He’d go look him up. It would make 
a nice hop and would be fun, much 
as he disliked Venus. 

Then he recalled with a cold shock 
that he had not seen the man in 
question for — how long? In any 
case, he was certainly dead by now. 



Libbey had certainly been right, 
he mused glumly, when he spoke of 
the necessity for a new type of 
memory association for the long- 
lived. He hoped the lad would push 
ahead with the necessary research 
and complete it before Lazarus was 
reduced to counting on his fingers. 
He dwelt on the notion for a minute 
or two before recalling that he was 
quite unlikely ever to see Libbey 
again. 

The mail arrived and contained 
nothing of importance. He was not 
surprised; he expected no personal 
letters. The spools of advertising 
matter went straight into the refuse 
chute. One item he read, a report 
from the Pan-Terra Shipping Corp. 
telling him that his convertible 
cruiser, the l Spy, had finished her 
overhaul and had been moved to the 
company’s docks, rental to begin 
forthwith. As instructed, they had 
not touched the astrogational con- 
trols — was that still the captain’s 
pleasure? 

He would pick her up later in the 
day and head out into space, he de- 
cided. Anything was better than 
sitting earthbound and admitting 
that he was bored. 

Paying his score and finding a 
rocket for hire occupied less than 
twenty minutes. He raised ground 
and headed for Goddard Field, fly- 
ing by contact to avoid having to 
report in on the beam. But long be- 
fore he reached there — over Kansas, 
specifically — he decided to land, and 
did so. 

He picked the field of a town so 
small as to be unlikely to rate a full- 
time professional proctor, and 
sought out a public communication 
booth close to the field. Inside, he 
hesitated. How did one go about 
calling up the head man of the en- 
tire Federation — and get him? If 



70 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



he simply called Novak Tower and 
asked for the Administrator, he not 
only would not get him, but his call 
would be switched to the Depart- 
ment of Safety for some unwelcome 
investigation. That was a sure 
thing. 

Well, there was only one way to 
beat that, he decided, and that was 
to call the Department of Safety 
himself, and, in some fashion, get the 
Chief Provost on the circuit — after 
that he would have to play by ear. 

“Service. Department of Civil 
Safety. What do you wish?” 

"Service to you,” he began in his 
best control-bridge manner. “I am 
Captain Sheffield. Give me the 
Chief.” His tones were not over- 
bearing; they simply assumed obedi- 
ence. 

Short silence. “What is it about, 
please?” 

“I said I was Captain Sheffield .’* 
This time his voice held controlled 
annoyance. 

Another short pause. “I’ll con- 
nect you with the Chief Deputy’s of- 
fice,” the voice said doubtfully. 

This time the screen came to life 
as well. “Yes?” asked the Chief 
Deputy. 

“Get me the Chief — hurry!” 

“What’s it about?” 

“Good Lord, man — get me the 
Chief! I’m Captain Sheffield!” 

The Chief Deputy should be for- 
given for connecting him. He was 
fagged out, and more confusing 
things had happened lately than he 
had been fully able to assimilate. 

Lazarus spoke first. “Oh, there 
you are! I’ve had the damnedest 
time cutting through your red tape. 
Get me the Old Man, and move! 
Use your closed circuit.” 

“What the devil do you mean? 
Who are you?” 

“Listen^ brother,” spoke Lazarus 
in tones of slow exasperation, “I 



would not have routed through your 
damned hide-bound department if I 
hadn’t been in a jam. Cut me into 
the Old Man. This is about the 
Howard Families.” 

The Provost was suddenly alert. 
“Make your report,” he said. 

“Look,” said Lazarus in slow, tired 
tones, “I know you would like to 
look over the Old Man’s shoulder, 
but this isn’t a good time to start it. 
If you obstruct me and force me to 
waste two hours by reporting in 
corpus, I’ll do it. But the Old Man 
will want to know why, and you can 
bet your pretty parade kit I’ll tell 
him.” 

The Chief Deputy decided to take 
a chance. He could cut him in 
three-way; if the Old Man didn’t 
burn him off the screen in about ten 
seconds, then he had played safe and 
guessed lucky. If he did — well, you 
could always call it a cross-up in 
communications. 

The Administrator looked flabber- 
gasted when he recognized Lazarus’ 
face in the screen. “You?” he ex- 
claimed. “How on earth — Did 
Zaccur Barstow — ” 

“Seal your circuit!” Lazarus cut 
in. 

The Chief Provost blinked his 
eyes as his screen went dead and si- 
lent. So the Old Man did have se- 
cret agents outside the department, 
he pondered. Interesting- — and not 
to be forgotten. 

Lazarus gave the Administrator 
a quick and fairly honest account of 
how he happened to be at large, then 
added at once, “So you see, I could 
have gone to cover and escaped en- 
tirely. In fact, I still can — the How- 
ard Families’ record on me is just a 
name, and one I don’t use in public 
any more. But I want to know one 
thing: Is the deal with Zaccur Bar- 
stow to let us emigrate still on?” 

“Yes, it is.” 



METHUSELAH'S CHILDREN 



71 



“Have you figured out how you 
are going to get a hundred thousand 
people aboard the New Frontiers 
without tipping your hand? You 
don’t dare trust your own people, 
you know.” 

“I know that. The status quo is a 
temporary expediency while we work 
it out.” 

“And I’m the man for the job. 
I’ve got to be; I’m the only agent in 
the field for either you or Zaccur. 
Now listen — ” 

Eighteen minutes later. Ford was 
nodding his head slowly and saying, 
“It might work. It might. Any- 
way, you can start your* prepara- 
tions. I’ll see to it that a letter of 
credit is waiting for vou at God- 
dard.” 

“How can I get through to you 
when I need Ho call you?” asked 
Lazarus. 

“Oh, that — Note this code com- 
bination.” He recited it off slowly. 
“That puts you through to my desk 
without a relay. No, don’t write it 
down; memorize it.” 

“And how can I talk to Zack Bar- 
stow?” 

“Route it through me and I’ll 
hook you in. There is no other pos- 
sible way, unless you can arrange a 
sensitive circuit with him later.” 

“Hin-m-m. I doubt it. I can’t 
be carting a sensitive around with 
me all the time. Well, cheerio — I’m 
clearing.” 

“Good luck!” 

One hundred thousand people 
with an average mass of a hundred 
and fifty — no, make it a hundred 
and sixty, Lazarus reconsidered — 
one hundred sixty pounds apiece to- 
taled a mass of sixteen million 
pounds, eight thousand tons. The 
/ Spy could raise such a load against 
one g, but she would be as logy to 
handle as baked beans and brown 



bread, quite aside from the fact that 
it was live load and could not be 
stowed like trade goods for Venus. 
The I Spy could move that many 
people, all right, but they would all 
be slightly dead on arrival. 

He needed a transport. 

Buying a passenger ship big 
enough to ferry the Families from 
Earth to where the New Frontiers 
hung in her construction orbit, 
twenty-five thousand-odd miles from 
Earth, was not too difficult a task. 
Four-Planets Passenger Service 
would sell him such a ship, in all 
probability. Competition being 
what it was, they were always anx- 
ious to cut their losses on older ves- 
sels no longer popular with tourists. 
But a passenger ship would not do; 
not only would there be unhealthy 
interest shown in what he wanted 
to do with such a ship, but also — 
and this settled the matter — he 
could not pilot it single-handed. 
Under the amended Space Precau- 
tionary Act, passenger * ships were 
required to be built for supervised 
human control throughout, under 
the theory that no automatic safety 
device could possibly replace the 
judgment, the ability to think, of 
a human being. 

So passenger ships were out; it 
would have to be a freighter. 

Furthermore, he knew where to 
find one. Luna City, being a non- 
self-supporting outpost despite the 
current attempts of the Department 
of Bionomics to establish on the 
Moon an artificial ecological sta- 
bility, imported from the Earth 
much more tonnage than she ex- 
ported. On Earth that w r ould result 
in a situation of “empties coming 
back”; in space transport it was fre- 
quently cheaper to let some of the 
empties accumulate, particularly in 
Luna City, where the empty freight- 
ers were quite valuable as scrap 



7* 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



metal, for lunar construction and the 
fuel required for a return trip was 
terrifically expensive, since it had 
to be brought up from Earth. 

Lazarus left the communications 
booth, from which he had talked to 
Ford, with restrained haste, re- 
claimed his hired ship, and raised 
ground at once. He did not know 
enough of current police practice to 
be sure whether or not the Chief 
Provost could or would trace the 
call he had made, but he wished to 
cover his tracks as much as possi- 
ble. He set course due west until 
the rocket was concealed by clouds 
at nine thousand feet, then circled a 
hundred and eighty degrees in the 
clouds and cut the air for Kansas 
City. He grounded there, turned in 
the ship to the local U-push-it 
agency, and flagged a ground taxi, 
which carried him down the control- 
way to Joplin. At Joplin he boarded 
the local from St. Louis without first 
obtaining a reservation, which 
helped to the extent of insuring that 
his presence on board the rocket 
would be nowhere officially recorded 
until the co-pilot finished his run to 
the coast and turned in his reports. 

He left the local at Goddard Field, 
paid his bills and took possession of 
the I Spy, raised ship for Luna City. 
He had just completed his solution 
of a “Hohmann’s S”-type trajectory 
and was feeding the solution into 
his autopilot when a thought oc- 
curred to him: the New Frontiers 
hung in an orbit of no apparent rela- 
tive motion — that is to say, it had 
a period of revolution around the 
Earth of twenty-four hours, being 
in a circular orbit approximately 
twenty-six thousand miles from 
Earth center. She appeared to hang 
on the local meridian of Goddard 
Field with a declination of zero. 

The time of his take-off was early 
afternoon; the phase of the Moon 



was two days past new — his trajec- 
tory would take him very close to 
the New Frontiers. 

Why not pay the interstellar ship 
a call, scout out the lay of the land? 

Why not, indeed? 

He hummed to himself as he 
swept the board clear of the calcula- 
tions he had just so carefully com- 
pleted and started a new set-up. 
When the new solution was com- 
pleted he fed it in, set the entire con- 
trol board on full automatic, and 
turned in. 

The alarm woke him, informing 
him that his calculated rendezvous 
had been achieved. He rolled out 
and peered out the forward ports. 
There lay the. Gargantuan eylin- 
droid, dead ahead. He was matched 
in speed and course, a short leg be- 
hind her in their common orbit. But 
the communication alarm was 
sounding as well; he shut off both 
alarms and slapped home the recep- 
tor switch. The mechanism hunted 
and matched frequencies; the visi- 
screen came to life. “ New Frontiers 
calling; what ship are you?” ‘ 

“Private vessel 1 Spy, Captain 
Sheffield. My compliments to your 
commanding officer. May I come 
inboard to pay a call?” 

It developed that they were more 
than willing to receive visitors. 
Since the ship was, for all practical 
purposes, finished, the gang of 
skilled technicians employed in its 
construction had already been re- 
turned to Earth. There was no one 
aboard but the inspectors represent- 
ing the Jordan Foundation and half 
a dozen specialist engineers, employ- 
ees of the corporation that had been 
formed to build and outfit the ship 
for the foundation. The skeleton 
crew were bored with each other, 
bored with the comparative inac- 



METHUSELAH S CHILDREN 



7 $ 



tivity, and looking forward to the 
pleasures of Earth. 

The senior engineer — technically 
captain, since the New Frontiers was 
a ship under way — led Lazarus 
through miles of corridors, pointing 
out apparatus, storerooms, libraries 
containing hundreds of thousands of 
spools, acres of hydroponic tanks, 
and spacious, comfortable, even 
luxurious quarters for a crew colony 
of over ten thousand people. “We 
believe that the First Expedition 
was somewhat undermanned,” he 
said. “The complement for this ex- 
pedition will be only slightly in ex- 
cess of the minimum estimate for a 
colony able to maintain our present 
level of culture.” 

“Doesn’t sound like enough,” 
commented Lazarus. “Aren’t there 
more than ten thousand types of spe- 
cialization?” 

“Yes, of course,” agreed the skip- 
per engineer, “but only basic and es- 
sential arts will be represented until 
the colony expands in numbers. 
Then the reference libraries will en- 
able them to add additional speciali- 
zations. That is roughly the theory, 
I believe, though it’s out of my line. 
Interesting subject, I presume.” 

“Are you anxious to get started?” 
•asked Lazarus. 

“Get started? Me? Where? Oh, 
you thought I was going to be one 
of the colonists, didn’t you?” He 
seemed vastly amused at the idea. 
“Not for me! I’ve got a little ranch 
out in San Fernando Valley in Cali- 
fornia, and that’s where I’m going 
to spend the end of my days, with 
green sod under my feet and sweet 
air in my nostrils.” He poked Laza- 
rus in the ribs. “You don’t think 
the chap that built the Mayflower 
sailed in her, do you?” 

Lazarus did not dally in the main- 
drive space, nor in the cell housing 
the giant atomic converter, once he 



had learned that they were un- 
manned, full-automatic type. The 
total absence of moving parts in 
each of these divisions, made possi- 
ble by recent developments in para- 
statics, made their “innards” of in- 
tellectual interest only. What he 
did want to see w r as the control 
room, and there he delayed, asking 
endless questions, until his host was 
plainly wearied and remaining only 
out of politeness. 

Lazarus finally desisted, not be- 
cause he minded boring his host, but 
because he was confident that he had 
learned enough about the controls 
to be willing to chance conning her. 

Two other important items of in- 
formation he picked up before he 
left: In nine Earth days the last fin- 
ishing touches would be completed. 
At the end of that time the skeleton 
crew were planning on a week end 
of relaxation on Earth, immediately 
following which the acceptance trials 
would be held, preliminary to turn- 
ing her over to the Foundation for 
her destined service. There might 
possibly be a communications opera- 
tor left aboard as a watchman — 
Lazarus suspected so, but was too 
wary to be inquisitive on the point 
— but to all intents and purposes, 
the big ship would be left empty of 
life, but in every possible way pre- 
pared for interstellar flight. No 
guard would be left because no 
guard was imaginably necessary — 
one might as well guard the Missis- 
sippi River! 

The other thing that he learned 
was how to enter the ship from the 
outside. He learned that from 
watching the mail rocket arrive just 
as he was leaving the ship. 

At Luna City, Joseph McFee, 
factor for Diana Terminal Corp., 
subsidiary of Diana Freight Lines, 
greeted Lazarus heartily. They were 



74 



-ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



old acquaintances. “Come in, cap- 
tain, and rest yourself! Pull up a 
chair. No, take this one.” He 
poured two drinks as he talked — 
honest brown liquor, none of your 
synthetic surrogates. “Haven’t 
seen you in — well, too long, anyway. 
Where did you raise from last, and 
what’s the gossip there? Heard any 
new ones?” 

“From Goddard,” Lazarus an- 
swered, and told him two decidedly 
vulgar stories, one of which the fac- 
tor had not heard before. Stories 
led to politics, and McFee gave Laz- 
arus a detailed account of what he 
felt to be the solution of the Euro- 
pean question, drawing liberally on 
historical analogy to support his ar- 
gument. Lazarus gathered that 
McFee wanted the Federation to es- 
tablish a protectorate of some sort 
over the village-and-peasant culture 
of the ruined continent. McFee had 
a very involved and semantically 
weak argument as to why the Cove- 
nant could not apply to any terri- 
tory below a certain level of indus- 
trialization. 

Lazarus did not give a hoot one 
way or the other, but it was inex- 
pedient to try to hurry McFee. 

But as soon as a graceful oppor- 
tunity presented itself, he came to 
the point. “Any company ships for 
sale now, Joe?” 

“Are there? Well, I should hope 
to shout there are. I’ve got more 
iron sitting out there on the plain 
and cluttering up my inventory than 
I’ve had in ten years. Looking for 
some? I can make you a sweet 
price.” 

“Maybe so. Maybe not,” Laza- 
rus answered cautiously. “Depends 
on whether or not you’ve got what 
1 want.” 

“I’ve got it, all right. Never saw 
such a dull market. Some days a 
man can’t turn an honest credit all 



day. Do you know what the trouble 
is?” he demanded rhetorically. “I’ll 
tell you — it’s this Howard Families 
business. Nobody wants to invest 
any credit until he knows where he 
stands. How can a man plan any- 
thing when he doesn’t know whether 
to plan for ten years or a hundred? 
I’ll make a prediction: If the Ad- 
ministration manages to crack the 
secret loose from those babies, you’ll 
see the biggest boom in long-term in- 
vestments there’s been yet. If they 
don’t — well, long-term holdings 

won’t be worth a minim a dozen, and 
there will be an eat-drink-and-be- 
merry craze that’ll make the Recon- 
struction look like a kid’s party. 

“What kind of metal you looking 
for?” he added, returning at last to 
the business at hand. 

“I don’t want metal, I want a 
ship.” 

McFee’s eyebrows went up. “So? 
What kind of a ship?” 

“Can’t say exactly. Got time to 
look ’em over with me?” 

McFee lent him a vac suit. They 
left the dome by North Tunnel and 
strolled around the ground ships in 
the long, easy, loping strides of men 
used to low gravity. It was soon 
apparent to Lazarus that there were 
just two ships available which pos- 
sessed the requisite lift and air space 
for his purpose. One was a tanker, 
gas or liquid, and the more desirable 
of the two ships, but a quick calcu- 
lation convinced him that it did not 
have deck space enough, including 
the floor plates of the tanks, to per- 
mit eight thousand tons of passen- 
gers to stand up huddled together, 
much less lie down for acceleration. 

The other was an older ship and 
had the disadvantage of cranky pis- 
ton-type injection meters, but she 
had carried fabricated merchandise 
and had deck space to spare. Her 
pay-load lift was much higher than 






METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



75 



lie needed — it had to be, since a live 
load would require so much more 
air space than the merchandise for 
which she had been built. That 
would make her lively, which might 
be important. 

As for the injectors, he would 
nurse them — he had pushed worse 
junk than this before. 

Lazarus haggled with McFee over 
the terms, not because he had any 
desire or need to conserve credit, but 
because he was too shrewd to do 
anything not in character with his 
reputation as a sharp businessman. 
He finally sold the I Spy to McFee 
personally, in a complicated three- 
cornered deal by which Lazarus ac- 
cepted McFee ’s note for the I Spy, 
used it to complete cash payment for 
the freighter, while McFee was to 



receive clear title to the cruiser, 
which he could in turn mortgage at 
the Commerce Clearance Bank in 
Luna City, using the proceeds with 
some of his ow n credit to redeem his 
own note — presumably before his ac- 
counts were audited, though natu- 
rally Lazarus did not speak of that. 

Lazarus knew that McFee wanted 
a private cruiser of his own, and that 
he had regarded the I Spy as the 
ideal bachelor’s go-buggy. It was 
not exactly a bribe — not quite. But 
Lazarus felt reasonably certain that 
McFee would not be inclined to dis- 
cuss the deal with anyone. Even so, 
Lazarus added one more item to 
confuse the issue; he asked McFee to 
keep an eye open for a cheap buy in 
trade tobacco. This McFee agreed 
to do, having decided quite reason- 






?« 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



ably that the captain’s mysterious 
new venture involved Venus, since 
that was the only reasonable des- 
tination for the goods in question. 

It took four days to make the 
freighter spaceworthy, despite Laza- 
rus’ best efforts and liberal bonuses. 
But at the end of that time he 
dropped Luna. City behind him, 
owner and master of the City oj 
Chillieothe. 

Lazarus had already shortened 
the name to the Chili in his mind. 
That brought dreams of a big bowl 
of that wonderful vulgar stew, with 
chunks of meat floating among the 
red beans — real meat, not the syn- 
thetic protein pap these youngsters 
called meat. 

He had not a care in the world. 

Approaching Earth, he called 
over the patrol frequency and asked 
for a parking orbit, as he did not 
wish to set the Chili down on Earth. 
It would waste fuel and might cause 
talk. To be sure, he could have 
picked an orbit without permission, 
but there was a long chance that the 
Chili might be noticed and charted 
during his absence, and investigated 
as a derelict. It was safer to be legal 
about it. 

An orbit having been assigned, he 
attained it and steadied down in the 
groove. That done, he set the echo 
mechanism in the ship’s communica- 
tor to his own combination, made 
sure that the set in the ship’s gig 
could trigger it, and dropped away 
in the gig. 

He had no particular destination 
in mind except to locate a public 
communicator and check in with 
Zack and the Administrator. He 
had not dared to do so until he w T as 
back on terra, since a ship-to-ground 
circuit necessitated one step of relay 
before his call could reach Novak 
Tower. The custom of privacy 



would be no safeguard if the mixer 
handling the relay overheard him 
talking to Ford about the Howard 
Families. 

The Administrator answered his 
call at once, though it was late at 
night at the longitude of Novak 
Tower. From the puffy circles un- 
der his eyes, Lazarus judged that he 
had been living at his control desk. 
“Hi,” said Lazarus, “better get me 
Zack Barstow. I’ve got some things 
to report.” 

“So it’s you,” Ford said grimly. 
“I thought you had run out on us. 
Where have you been?” 

“Buying a ship,” Lazarus said 
briefly. “Where did you think? 
Let’s get Barstow.” 

Ford frowned, but turned to his 
desk. By means of an auxiliary 
screen, Barstow joined them in con- 
ference. He seemed surprised to see 
Lazarus, and not altogether relieved. 
Lazarus spoke quickly: 

“What’s the matter, pal? Didn’t 
Ford tell you what I was up to?” 

“Yes, he did,” admitted Barstow, 
“but he didn’t know where you were 
or what you were doing. As time 
went along and you didn’t check in, 
I decided that we had seen the last 
of you.” 

“Shucks,” protested Lazarus, 
“you know I wouldn’t do anything 
like that. Anyhow', I’m here — and 
here’s what I’ve done so far — ” He 
told them of the Chili and of his 
visit to the New Frontiers. “Now 
this is how I see it: Sometime be- 

tween four and six days from now, 
while the New Frontiers is waiting 
out there with nobody inboard of 
her, I set the Chili down in the prison 
reservation, we load her up in a 
hurry, rush out to the New Fron- 
tiers, take her over, and scoot. Mr. 
Administrator, that calls for a lot of 
help from you. You’ll have to see 
to it that your proctors look the 



METHUSELAH S CHILDREN 



77 



other way when I land and while we 
load. Then we’ll need to kinda slide 
past the traffic patrol. After that it 
would be a whole lot better if no 
naval craft were in a favorable posi- 
tion to do anything drastic about the 
New Frontiers. If there is a watch 
left on board, they may holler for 
help before we can shut ’em up.” 
“Give me credit for some fore- 
sight,” Ford answered sourly. “I 
know you will have to have a diver- 
sion to accomplish it. The scheme 
is fantastic as it is.” 

“Not too fantastic,” Lazarus dis- 
agreed, “if you are willing to use 
your emergency powers to the limit 
right at the last minute.” 

“No, perhaps not. But we can’t 
wait any four days.” 

“Why not?” 

“The situation won’t hold together 
that long.” 

“Neither will mine,” put in Bar- 
stow. 

Lazarus looked from one face to 
the other. “Huh? What’s the trou- 
ble? What’s up?” 

They told him. 

Ford and Barstow were engaged 
in an obviously impossible task, that 
of putting over a complex and subtle 
fraud, a triple fraud, for the neces- 
sary effect was to be different for 
the Families, the general public, and 
the Council. Each had a task which 
presented special and apparently in- 
surmountable difficulties. 

Ford had no one at all whom he 
dared make a confederate; even his 
most loyal subordinate might be in- 
fected by the mania inspired by the 
delusional fountain of youth. Or 
might not be — but they were all 
short-lived individuals, and there 
was no way to tell without com- 
promising the conspiracy. In the 
meantime, he had to convince the 



Council that the measures he was 
using were the best possible for 
achieving the Council’s own purpose. 

Besides that he had to give out 
daily, almost hourly, statements to 
the news services, statements in- 
tended to convince the citizens that 
their government was about to be 
successful in gaining for them the 
boon of longer lives. As time passed, 
these statements had to be more cir- 
cumstantial and detailed. As it was, 
the populace was becoming restless, 
impatient, more insistent on imme- 
diate results. They were sloughing 
off their carefully nurtured, gentle 
culture and becoming mob. 

Ford had been forced already to 
resort to the vote of confidence; he 
had won it by two votes. The Coun- 
cil was getting out of hand. 

Barstow’s troubles were different, 
but quite as maddening. He was 
forced to seek confederates, for the 
success of the scheme required that 
all the members of the Families 
know the truth about what the fu- 
ture held in store for them by soma 
undetermined time before they were 
ferried to the New Frontiers. That 
was essential, if the Members were 
to embark quietly and quickly when 
the time came. He would require 
group leaders, men influential in 
their own Families, to persuade, ca- 
jole, and quiet fears. 

But it was not feasible to tell all 
the thousands of Members ahead of 
time. Such a number could not 
keep a secret; there would be one or 
more stupid or recalcitrant persons 
to blab the truth to the proctor 
guards. 

He had picked his men and 
sounded them out, then taken them 
into his confidence. They in turn 
were proselyting others to insure a 
sufficiently large number of depend- 
able “herdsmen.” But with every 
new man the probability of disaster 



78 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



increased. It was dangerous — dan- 
gerous! 

There was another and even more 
compelling reason why Barstow had 
to seek confederates. He and Ford 
had decided on a scheme, fragile at 
best, to deceive the Council and the 
public as to Ford’s progress in ob- 
taining the “secret.” The technique 
used by the Families in combating 
the symptoms of senility were being 
doled out, a little at a time, under 
the pretense that the sum total was 
the whole secret of how to live to a 
biologically impossible age. But to 
accomplish that meant that Barstow 
required confederates among the bio- 
chemists, gland therapists, special- 
ists in symbioties and metabolism, 
and the other skilled technicians who 
served the kin group in the matter. 
Once in the conspiracy, Barstow and 
Ford would see to it that they were 
questioned by the Chief Provost’s 
psychotechnicians and thereby “re- 
veal” their secrets. 

But that required other confeder- 
ates among the Families’ own psy- 
chotechnicians in order that the ex- 
perts picked for the ordeal should 
be able to maintain the fraud even 
under the influence of neo-scopola- 
mine or other drugs. They required 
more than a simple hypnotic injunc- 
tion not to talk, such as would have 
served to protect Family secrets at 
the outset; they required hypnotic 
false indoctrination for an entire 
complex of situations — a much more 
difficult matter — if they were to de- 
ceive successfully. 

Barstow knew that he could not 
keep all the elements safely juggled 
much longer. The other Members, 
the great mass being kept in ignor- 
ance, were increasingly restless; they 
wanted release from their present 
uncomfortable and humiliating pre- 
dicament, and they expected anyone 



in authority to do something — and 
quickly! 

Barstow saw his influence with his 
cousins shrinking like snow in a 
chinook. 

“It won’t be any four days,” re- 
peated Ford. “It will be twelve 
hours — twenty-four at the outside.” 

Barstow looked worried. “I don’t 
know whether I can prepare them in 
that length of time. I may have 
trouble getting them to go.” 

“Don’t worry about it,” Ford said 
shortly. 

“Why not?” 

“Because,” he said bluntly, “any- 
one who stays behind will be dead 
ten minutes after you raise ship!” 

Barstow said nothing, but looked 
at Ford with eyes filled with unre- 
sentful pain. It was the first time 
that either one of them had admit- 
ted verbally what each knew to be 
true — that this was no relatively 
harmless piece of involved political 
chicanery, but a desperate and al- 
most hopeless attempt to escape exe- 
cution — and that Ford stood in the 
anomalous and excruciatingly em- 
barrassing position of being both 
conspirator and executioner. 

Quickly they both dropped their 
eyes and looked away. 

“Well,” Lazarus broke in briskly, 
“now that you boys have settled 
that little item, let’s get on with it. 
I can ground the Chili in” — he con- 
sidered rapidly where she would be 
in her orbit, and how long it would 
take him to rendezvous in the gig — 
“sixteen hours. Play safe and make 
it seventeen. How about nineteen 
o’clock, zone plus six time, tomor- 
row afternoon?” 

The other two showed relief at his 
apparent tactlessness. “Good 
enough,” agreed Barstow. “I’ll have 
them in the best shape possible.” 

“You can tell them all any time 



METHUSELAHS CHILDREN 



70 



now,” Ford confirmed. “I am with- 
drawing all proctors at once.” Bar- 
stow understood that Ford did not 
mean that the Families were to be 
released; the temporary barrier 
which imprisoned them would be 
left in place, but they would be com- 
pletely cut off from contact with the 
short-lived. He could drop the diffi- 
cult and nerve-racking subterfuge to 
his own people. 

“Anything else before we clear?” 
asked Lazarus. “Oh, yes — Zack, 
we’d better arrange a place for me 
to ground, or. I may shorten a lot of 
lives with my blast.” 

“That’s true. I’ve planned on it. 
Make your approach from the south. 
I’ll have your berth marked in the 
usual fashion.” 

“Better give him a pilot beam to 
come in on, too,” Ford warned. 

“Why?” asked Lazarus. “I don’t 
need one. I could set her down on 
the top of the Washington Monu- 
ment.” 

“Not tomorrow night you 
couldn’t. Don’t be surprised at the 
weather.” 

Lazarus approached his esti- 
mated rendezvous with the Chili and 
used the little communicator in the 
gig to buzz the combination he had 
set on the echo device in the mother 
ship. He heard the answering sig- 
nal at once, which relieved his mind, 
for he had very little faith in ma- 
chinery which he had not personally 
overhauled. A long search for the 
Chili at this point could ' be disas- 
trous. 

He cut in her bearing, picking up 
the signal by radio compass, swung 
wide, cut her again, swung high and 
cut a third time to prove his fix, and 
then gunned the little craft for home. 
He had missed his rendezvous by 
less than three minutes — not bad in 



a heavy field with a freighter’s 
barely adequate instruments. 

Entering the stratosphere, circling 
two thirds of the globe to ground, 
took no more time in the Chili than 
he had anticipated. The hour’s lee- 
way he had allowed himself he partly 
expended by being stingy in his ma- 
neuvering in order to spare the worn, 
obsolescent injection meters. 

Then he was down in the tropo- 
sphere and making his approach. He 
soon realized what Ford had meant 
in warning him about the weather. 
His destination was covered with 
thick, deep clouds. Lazarus was 
amazed at the size of the disturbance 
and somehow- pleased. It reminded 
him of other days, when w eather w-as 
something to be experienced rather 
than to be planned. Life had lost 
some of its flavor, in his estimation, 
when the electronics engineers had 
finally harnessed the elements. He 
hoped that the planet they finally 
found — if they found one! — would 
have some nice, lively weather. 

All at once he was in it and too 
busy to meditate about it. In spite 
of her mass, the ship bucked and 
complained. Whew! Ford must 
have ordered this little charivari the 
minute he set the time — and at that, 
the integrators must have had a big, 
natural low-pressure area somewhere 
out over the Gulf to build on. He 
switched on his infrareds and cut in 
the rectifiers, putting him in visual 
contact again through the ghostly 
images on the black-light screen. 

He passed over a miles-wide 
scarred band on the landscape, un- 
mistakable even with the infra — the 
ruins of the Okla-Orleans road city. 
When Lazarus had last seen it, it 
had been noisy with life. Of all the 
unwieldy, cantankerous white ele- 
phants the race had ever saddled 
itself with, he thought with the un- 
used half of his mind, those mechani- 



80 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



cal monstrosities easily took first 
prize! 

The thought was cut short by an 
urgent signal from his board; he had 
picked up Barstow’s pilot beam. 

He wheedled her in, cut his last 
jet as she scraped, and slapped a se- 
ries of levers; the great cargo ports 
rumbled open, and the rain beat in. 

Eleanor Johnson huddled into 
herself, half crouching against the 
storm, and tried to draw her cloak 
more tightly about the baby in the 
crook of her left arm. The child had 
cried when the storm first hit, cried 
incessantly, stretching her nerves 
tight. Now it was silent, but its si- 
lence seemed only new cause for 
alarm. 

She had wept herself, though she 
had tried not to show it. In all her 
twenty-seven years, she had never 
been exposed to a storm like this; it 
seemed symbolic of the storm that 
had overturned her life, swept her 
away from her beloved first home of 
her own with its homely, homey, old- 
fashioned fireplace, its shiny, effi^ 
cient service cell, its own thermostat 
which she could set to the tempera- 
ture she liked, without consulting 
others — a storm which had swept her 
away between two grim proctors, ar- 
rested like some poor psychotic, and 
landed her after terrifying indigni- 
ties here in the cold, sticky red clay 
of this Oklahoma field. 

Was it true? Could it be true? 
Or had she never borne the child in 
her arms at all, and this another of 
the strange dreams she had had 
while she carried it? 

But the rain was too real, too 
coldly wet, the thunder too loud. 
She could never have slept through 
such a dream. Then what the senior 
trustee had told them must be true, 
too. It must be true; she had seen 
the ship ground w ith her own eyes. 



its blast bright against the gloom of 
the storm. She could not see it now, 
but the crowd around her moved 
slowly forward from time to time, as 
those ahead loaded. She was close 
to the outskirts of the crowd; she 
would be one of the last to get 
aboard. 

It was very necessary to get 
aboard; Zaccur Barstow had told 
them with deep solemnity what lay 
in wait for them if they failed to 
board. She had believed him; nev- 
ertheless she wondered how it could 
possibly be true — how could anyone 
be so wicked, so deeply, terribly 
wicked as to kill anyone as harmless 
and helpless as herself and her baby? 

She was struck by sudden panic, 
terror — suppose there was not room 
enough by the time she got up to 
the ship? She clutched the infant 
more tightly to her breast. The 
child cried again at the pressure. 

A woman in the crowd moved 
closer and spoke to her. “You must 
be tired. May I carry the baby for 
a while?” 

“No. No, thank you. I am all 
right.” A flash of lightning illumi- 
nated the features of the woman who 
had offered; she recognized her and 
recalled her name; it was Mary Ris- 
ling. 

But the kindness of the offer 
steadied her. She knew now what 
she must do. If they were filled and 
could take no more, she must pass 
the child forward, over the heads of 
the crowd. They could not refuse 
space to anything as little as her 
baby. 

Something brushed her in the 
dark. The crowd was moving for- 
ward again. 

When Barstow could see that 
the loading would be completed in 
a few. more minutes, he left his post 
by one of the cargo ports and ran as 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



81 



fast as he could through the splash- 
ing, sticky muck to the communica- 
tion shack. Ford had instructed him 
to give notice just before they raised 
ship; it was necessary to Ford’s plan 
of diversion. He fumbled with the 
awkward, unpowered door, swung it 
open, and rushed in. He set the pri- 
vate combination that should con- 
nect him directly to Ford’s control 
desk and pushed the activating key. 

He was answered quite promptly, 
but it was not Ford’s face on the 
screen. He stared blankly and burst 
out with, “Where is the Administra- 
tor? I want to talk to him,” before 
he placed in his mind the face in 
front of him. 

It was a face well known to the 
public through sterocast and picture 
— the Leader of the Minority in the 
Council. 

“You’re talking to the Adminis- 
trator,” the man said, and grinned 
savagely. “The new Administrator. 
Now who the devil are you?” 

Barstow thanked all gods, past 
and present, that the recognition was 
one-sided. He cut the circuit, with 
one unaimed blow at the control 
panel and plunged out of the build- 
ing. 

Two of the ports were closed; the 
last stragglers were moving into the 
others. He urged them in with 
curses and slammed pellmell up the 
central lift to the control room. 
“Raise ship!” he shouted to Lazarus. 
“Fast!” 

“What’s all the shootin’ fer?” in- 
quired Lazarus, but he was already 
busy with his hands at the levers 
which closed the ports. He tripped 
the screamer which warned of ac- 
celeration, waited a scant ten sec- 
onds, and gave her power. 

“Well,” he said conversationally a 
few minutes later when the pressure 
across their chests had relaxed suffi- 
ciently to permit comfortable speech, 



“I hope everybody was lying down. 
If not, we may have some broken 
bones on our hands. What was that 
you were saying?” 

Barstow told him about his at- 
tempt to report to Ford. 

Lazarus whistled a few bars of 
“Turkey in the Straw.” “It looks 
like we’ve run out of minutes. It 
does look like it.” He made no fur- 
ther comment of any sort, but gave 
his attention to nursing greater 
speed, one eye on the. fuel gauge, one 
on the tracker. 

Lazarus had his hands full to 
jockey the Chili into just the right 
position under the belly of the New 
Frontiers; the overstrained meters 
made the smaller craft skittish as a 
young horse. But he did it. The 
magnetic anchors clanged home; the 
gas-tight seals slapped into place; 
and their ears popped slightly as the 
smaller ship adjusted its internal 
pressure to that of the larger. Laza- 
rus dived for the drop hole in the 
floor and, pulling himself rapidly 
hand over hand, reached the port of 
contact in time to find himself face 
to face with the skipper-engineer of 
the New Frontiers. 

“What’s the meaning of this?” he 
was asked angrily. “Where do you 
think you are? In a public zoo?” 

“It means,” said Lazarus, “that 
you and your boys are going back 
to Earth a few days early — in this 
ship.” 

“Why, that’s ridiculous!” 

“Brother,” said Lazarus gently, 
his blaster suddenly growing out of 
his left fist, “I’d sure hate to kill you 
after you were so nice to me, but I 
sure will, unless you knuckle under 
awful quick.” 

The official seemed undecided. 
One of his subordinates, of a group 
which had gathered to learn the 
cause of the unexpected arrival, at- 



82 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



tempted to slip away. Lazarus 
winged him in the leg, at low power, 
with a deceptively casual shot from 
the hip. “Now you’ll have to carry 
him,” he observed. 

That settled it. The skipper made 
use of the big ship’s internal an- 
nouncing system from the micro- 
phone located at the open port to 
call all his men together. Lazarus 
counted them as they arrived — 
twenty-nine, a number he had been 
careful to learn on his previous visit. 
As each arrived, two men were as- 
signed to hold him, in lieu of weap- 
ons or handcuffs. 

In the meantime, the Chili was be- 
ing slowly emptied. Only the one 
port of four could be used, but it was 
being used much more rapidly. In 
zero gravitation, the bodies boiled 
out of the trunk connecting the two 
ships like angry bees from a hive, 
the pressure of the uneasy mob be- 
hind forcing those in the bottleneck 
through rapidly. Barstow had 
joined Lazarus as soon as he had 
been able to work his own way 
through the press. Lazarus set him 
to attempting to bring some degree 
of order into the proceeding, order 
which would hasten the finish. More 
assistants were conscripted from the 
flowing throng, largely for their ap- 
parent immunity to spacesickness, 
and stationed as monitors to keep 
the crowd moving on into the ship. 

A man broke loose from the 
stream and approached Barstow. 
“There’s someone trying to get into 
the freighter,” he announced. “I 
saw them through a port.” 

“Where?” demanded Lazarus. 

The man was handicapped some- 
what by a defective knowledge of 
ship structure and terminology, but 
he managed to make the location 
clear. “Hang onto those babies,” 
Lazarus advised the guards holding 
the prisoners. He returned his 



blaster to its holster and fought his 
way back into the Chili. 

There was a ship, true enough, as 
Lazarus determined by peering cau- 
tiously out a viewport — a small 
yacht for one or two passengers. Its 
occupant or occupants had sealed to 
an entrance lock and was trying 
noisily but vainly to open the locked 
door. 

Lazarus got both his weapons free, 
then kicked the latch open with a 
foot and jumped to one side. 

The door opened and a single fig- 
ure emerged. Lazarus surveyed it 
cautiously from his vantage, then 
moved out into view. “I’ll be a 
cross-eyed so-and-so!” he said feel- 
ingly. “It’s you, eh?” 

“Yes, it’s me,” admitted Slayton 
Ford. “May I . . . may I come 
along?” 

He had not only lost his office, he 
had barely escaped arrest. Knowing 
what was bound to come out, he had 
made a last-minute decision to come 
along if they would have him, rather 
than go to Coventry — or worse. 

It was certain aspects of the diver- 
sion he had arranged which had 
finally brought on his downfall. 
Withdrawing the proctors was sus- 
picious enough, arranging the storm 
was worse, although he had called 
it an attempt to break down the mo- 
rale of the prisoners — but the steps 
he had taken to insure that naval 
vessels were grounded or remote in 
space had in the final instance 
tripped him up. 

For he had, at the last moment, 
caused a broadcast warning to be 
sent out which alleged that one of 
the uranium power plants swinging 
in orbits about the Earth had been 
attacked by pirates. The plant 
named in the call was at the time on 
the side of the Earth farther from 
the New Frontiers. 

It was a thin excuse at best — fishy 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



83 



— but it bore official authority, and 
had sufficed to draw all police and 
naval craft to the far side of the 
planet. 

It was simply bad luck that his 
political rival should have caught 
him out on it so soon. An emergency 
session of the Council was convened 
at once; Ford was ousted as soon as 
a quorum could be assembled. 

Lazarus conducted Ford back 
into the New Frontiers, and paused 
in front of Barstow. “Yeah, it’s 
him,” he confirmed. “Don’t stare — 
it’s rude. He’s going with us. Have 
you seen Libbey?” 

“Libbey? Yes, he came through 
just a short while ago. He’s around 
close, I think, for he was looking for 
you.” 

“Good. I want him. How much 
longer till you’re loaded?” 

“God knows. Not more than an 
hour. I’d guess, but we could not 
count them.” 

“O. K. I’m going up to the con- 
trol room. We ought to be shoving 
out of here a little sooner than is 
humanly possible. Phone me as 
soon as you have the last man in, 
our guests here out, and the Chili 
broken clear. And send Libbey up.” 

“Lazarus — ” 

Lazarus swung around. It was 
Libbey. He had a small portmanteau 
strapped to his wrist. 

“Oh, there you are! Come on, 
Andy. We are going up to Control.” 

“AH right, but I wanted to tell 
you — ” 

“We’ll talk later.” He motioned 
for Ford to come along, partly be- 
cause he did not know what else to 
do with him and partly with a vague 
idea of keeping him in sight and 
away from the mass until his pres- 
ence on board could be explained in 
the most favorable fashion. 

Lazarus spent the enforced wait 

AST— 6h 



while loading was being completed 
in explaining to Libbey the ex- 
tremely ingenius but entirly unor- 
thodox controls of the star ship. 
Libbey was fascinated, delighted, 
and forgot to bring up the matter 
that was on his mind. As for Laza- 
rus, he was pleased to be able to in- 
struct at least one relief pilot before 
moving out. Barstow’s call announc- 
ing all clear came before Lazarus had 
gotten around to picking a course. 

“I guess we had better head 
straight out away from Earth first,” 
he said, speaking half to himself, 
“since our pal Ford has drawn the 
navy and patrol craft off to the far 
side.” 

“No, Lazarus, no!” protested Lib- 
bey. 

“Huh? Why not?” 

“You should head right straight 
for the Sun — ” 

“For the Sun? Why?” 

“I tried to tell you. It’s because 
of the space drive you asked me to 
develop.” 

“But we haven’t got it.” 

“Yes, we have. Here.” He 
shoved the valise he had been carry- 
ing toward Lazarus. 

Lazarus opened it. 

Assembled from odd bits of other 
equipment, looking more like the 
product of a boy’s workshop than 
the output of a scientist’s laboratory, 
the gadget which Libbey had re- 
ferred to as a “space drive” under- 
went Lazarus’ critical examination. 
Against the polished and sophisti- 
cated perfection of the control room 
it looked uncouth, pathetic, ridicu- 
lously inadequate. 

Lazarus poked it tentatively. 
“What is it?” he asked. “Your 
model?” 

“No, no. That’s it. That’s the 
space drive.” 

Lazarus looked at the younger 
man critically, but not unsympa- 



84 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



thetically. “Son,” he asked slowly, 
“the strain hasn’t been too much for 
you, has it? You haven’t come un- 
zipped?” 

“No, no, no!” Libbey sputtered. 
“I’m as sane as you are. This is a 
radically new notion. This is why I 
want you to take us down toward 
the Sun. If it works, it will work 
best where light pressure is strong- 
est.” 

“And if it doesn’t work,” inquired 
Lazarus, “what does that make us? 
Sunspots?” 

“I don’t mean for you to drive 
straight into the Sun. Head for it 
now, and as soon as I can work out 
the data. I’ll give you the corrections 
to warp into your proper trajectory. 
I want us to pass the Sun in a very 
flat hyperbola, well inside the orbit 
of Mercury, and as close to the pho- 
tosphere as this ship car, stand. I 
don’t know how close that is, so I 
couldn’t work it out ahead of time, 
but the data must be available on 
board, and there will be several 
hours in which to correlate it.” 

Lazarus looked again at the giddy 
little cat’s cradle of apparatus, then 
back at its designer. “Andy,” he 
said, “if you are sure that the gears 
in your head are still meshed, I’ll 
take a chance on it.” He shoved out 
his left hand in a sudden decisive 
gesture, covering a small ruby of 
light on the left-hand control panel; 
the acceleration warning shrieked 
throughout the ship. “Anyhow,” he 
added cheerfully, “if they try to 
catch us, they won’t like chasing us 
down into the Sun!” 

He started easily with a quarter g, 
just enough to shake them up and 
make them cautious. He raised it 
to a half g, to a g, and held it there 
for a few seconds. “They all should 
have had time to lie down by now,” 
he commented, and raised it again — 



three halves g. When the accelera- 
tion reached twice that of gravity. 
Earth normal, he held it. With 
thousands of groundlubbers aboard, 
he was reluctant to increase the ac- 
celeration above that point for any 
sustained period — even two g’s 
might put too much of a strain on 
some of them. 

To be sure, many of the naval 
craft he was trying to outrun could 
accelerate higher than two gravities, 
and their crews could stand up 
physically under much more for 
short periods. But a naval vessel’s 
period of high acceleration was 
strictly limited by her fuel tanks. 

The New Frontiers had no fuel 
tanks; she “lived off the country,” 
gathering up any mass that lay in 
her path with a sweep field — mete- 
ors, cosmic dust, stray atoms. If 
the “country” was “poor” in stray 
matter, any mass from within the 
ship was fuel for her hungry con- 
verter — furniture, clothing, food, 
even dead bodies. The converter 
accepted them all — mass was en- 
ergy; energy, mass. Each tortured 
gram, in dying, gave up nine hun- 
dred million trillion ergs. 

Lazarus piK 1 the acceleration up 
to two g’s and held it, using it first 
to kill the vector sum of the New 
Frontiers’ orbital speed plus the or- 
bital speed of the Earth — a trifle 
over forty-eight miles per second, 
and none of it in the direction he 
wished to go. Even at two g’s, it 
took more than an hour. Had he 
known his destination and been able 
to pick his time — twelve hours’ side- 
real earlier or later — he could have 
made use of the orbital speed of the 
New Frontiers. He shrugged it off 
— spilled milk. Pursuers would 
probably be under the same handi- 
cap, since they would naturally use 
the vector of the New Frontiers as a 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



85 



prime factor in their calculations — 
he hoped. 

Libbey made a half-hearted at- 
tempt to use the unfamiliar ballistic 
calculators of the big ship, unfa- 
miliar in that they, like everything 
else in the ship, were built without 
moving parts. He soon gave it up 
and fell back on the curious talent 
for figures lodged in his brain. His 
brain had no moving parts, 'either, 
but he was used to it. 

When Libbey had provided Laza- 
rus with the data and Lazarus had 
settled the ship into her course, he 
checked for pursuers again — as well 
as he could, which was not too well. 
None of the usual detection devices, 
magnetic, radio, nor klystron, could 
be very useful to him, not because 
they would fail to show him ships, 
but because they would fail to show 
him what ships. Naturally, as close 
to Earth as he still was, there would 
be ships, but the instruments had 
no way to distinguish between a 
navy interceptor and a helpless 
cruiser. 

The New Frontiers had . -one more 
resource not found on normal ships. 

Her control room was located in- 
side the ship instead of in the bow, 
and was hemispherical in shape, with 
the controls at the center of the flat 
side. Her only predecessor in inter- 
stellar flight, the Vanguard, had 
been fitted with a spherical control 
room; the inner surface of the sphere 
being equipped in the conventional 
manner with vision screens which re- 
produced the entire celestial globe — 
a stellarium. But men are so 
equipped as to see but one hemi- 
sphere at a time, an entire sphere 
was unnecessary. The hemisphere 
in the New Frontiers reproduced ei- 
ther the leading or the trailing hemi- 
sphere, as might be selected by the 
pilot, by the simple dodge of using 



unparalleled circuits throughout the 
new system. 

But electromechanical vision has 
an advantage over bare sight; it is 
potentially able to discern lower an- 
gular speed than the eye. To the 
eye, a spaceship any distance away 
is a dot of light, and all dots of light 
differ only in intensity, be they stars 
or spaceships. If the relative angu- 
lar speed of a ship against the stars 
is low, the eye will miss it. But an 
instrument can be designed to detect 
it. The delayed-action stereoscopic 
principle, long used in naval range 
finders and in asteroid-belt pilot 
alarms, had been built into the en- 
tire spread of view screens. If a dot 
of light reproduced on a screen de- 
clined to hold steady, but progressed 
from cellet to cellet — relative angu- 
lar movement — the gradient so es- 
tablished would trigger a circuit 
causing the moving dot to far out- 
shine its fellows, and with a color 
which ran down the spectrum ac- 
cording to the angular speed. All 
this if the pilot threw in the proper 
test circuit. 

Lazarus threw in the circuit. The 
high speed of the New Frontiers 
gave a long, effective base line for 
the pseudo-stereoscopy. Half a 
dozen dots of light obliged by glow- 
ing angry red, several times that 
number in other colors. He disre- 
garded the rest, examined the half a 
dozen, running up the electronic 
magnification to the limit. None of 
them appeared to be on courses 
which would cross their own course 
ahead of them, or at all, for that 
matter. 

He dropped the matter. He still 
had no information as to ships which 
might be attempting to intercept 
them directly, since a ship on a col- 
lision course holds a steady bearing, 
but he was not much worried about 
that. At two g’s, a naval ship would 



86 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



burn up her fuel before reaching 
them, he judged. If they were fools 
enough to risk dropping into the 
Sun, let ’em come on! 

Tabling the matter in his mind, 
he turned to Libbey. “I could do 
with some coffee and some sand- 
wiches. How about you?” 

Libbey nodded absent-mindedly. 
Ford spoke up, the first word he had 
uttered since entering the ship. “I 
can get it,” he said eagerly. He 
seemed pathetically anxious to be 
useful. 

*‘0. K. No, you’d probably get 
into some kind of trouble. You 
aren’t exactly popular with the 
Members. I’ll phone down and raise 
somebody.” 

“I probably wouldn’t be recog- 
nized under these circumstances,” 
Ford argued. “Anyhow, it’s a legiti- 
mate errand — I can explain that.” 

Lazarus saw from his face that it 
was necessary to the man’s morale. 
“All right,” he capitulated, “if you 
can handle yourself under two g’s — ” 

“I’ve got space legs. What kind 
of sandwiches?” 

“I’d say corned beef, but it would 
probably be some kind of damned 
substitute. Make mine cheese, with 
rye if they’ve got it, and use plenty 
of mustard. And a gallon of coffee. 
What are you having, Andy?” 

“Me? Oh, anything — whatever is 
convenient.” 

Ford heaved himself out of the ac- 
celeration chair he had made use of 
and started to leave, then added, 
“Oh — it might save time if you could 
tell me where to go.” 

“Brother,” said Lazarus, “if this 
ship isn’t pretty well crammed with 
food, we’ve all made a terrible mis- 
take. Scout around — you’ll find 
some.” 

Down, down, down toward the 
Sun, with a speed increasing by 



sixty-four feet per second for every 
second elapsed. Down, and still 
down, for fifteen endless hours of 
double weight. They had traveled 
seventeen million miles and reached 
the inconceivable speed of six hun- 
dred and forty miles per second. Oh, 
yes, the figures can be spoken — but 
try to imagine New York to Chi- 
cago, an hour’s flight in the best 
stratorocket, done in the flutter of 
a heartbeat. 

They approached the orbit of Ve- 
nus, would reach it before a man 
could grow hungry. At the end of 
the fifteenth hour Libbey, then at 
conn, ceased accelerating, let the 
ship fall free under her terrific im- 
petus and the steadily mounting pull 
of the Sun. 

Barstow had had a bad time of it 
during the fifteen hours of heavy 
weight. For the rest, it was a time 
to lie down, to try hopelessly for 
sleep, to breath laboriously and to 
seek a new position in which to rest 
from the burden of their own bod- 
ies. But a sense of responsibility 
drove Zaccur Barstow on, though 
the Old Jtlan of the Sea sat around 
his neck and raised his weight to 
three hundred and fifty pounds. 

Not that there was anything much 
he could do for them, save crawl 
ponderously from one compartment 
to another and inquire about their 
welfare. Organization, assignment 
of sleeping spaces, arrangement of 
routine and duties, all those things 
must wait until the pilots decided to 
cease accelerating. In particular, 
nothing could be done to change 
at all the manifold overcrowding 
of the ship. They lay where they 
had to, men, women, children mixed 
indiscriminately together, without 
room to stretch out properly. 

The one good thing about it, Bar- 
stow reflected, was that they were 
all too weary, too miserable to worry 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



87 



about more than the dragging min- 
utes. There was no spirit in them 
to make trouble, to question the wis- 
dom of the flight, to inquire into the 
many unexplained and contradictory 
factors leading up to it — or such 
embarrassing details as Ford’s pres- 
ence aboard, or the peculiar actions 
ef Lazarus. 

He must, he thought, plan a care- 
ful propaganda campaign before 
such questions could grow. 

Eleanor Johnson felt none of these 
worries. After the first relief of real- 
izing that her baby and herself were 
safe in the ship, she resigned her 
worries to her elders, and felt noth- 
ing but the dull apathy of emotional 
reaction and inescapable weight. 
Her child was quiet, whether in a 
coma or sleeping, she could not tell. 
She listened for its heartbeats and 
assured herself that it was alive; be- 
yond that there was nothing that she 
could do — now. 

She did not even raise up her head 
when Barstow plodded through the 
compartment in which she lay. 

Free flight should have been a re- 
lief. It was not, save for the minus- 
cule percent who were old spacemen. 
There is no need to dwell on the un- 
savory horrors of spacesickness. In- 
finity multiplied by anything is still 
infinity. A hundred thousand cases 
of nausea is still nausea. Those who 
have experienced it in space or at 
sea know of it; those who have not 
cannot be told of it. 

Barstow, himself long since salted 
to free flight, floated forward to the 
control room to pray for relief for 
his charges. “Most of them are ter- 
ribly uncomfortable,” he told Laza- 
rus. “Can you put some spin on 
the ship and give them a little 
let-up? It would help a lot.” 

“And it would make maneuvering 
difficult. No.” He added not un- 
kindly, “A ship that is quick to re- 



spond will mean a lot more to them 
if it comes to a pinch than just be- 
ing able to keep their supper down. 
Nobody ever dies from spacesick- 
ness, anyhow — they just wish they 
could!” 

Late on the second “day” out, 
when the ship was already inside the 
orbit of Mercury, Libbey returned 
to the control room, having taken 
some overdue rest. Lazarus turned 
the conn over to him with the re- 
mark, “Better look the situation 
over, Andy. I had some trouble 
while you were gone.” 

“What kind?” Libbey demanded 
anxiously. 

“Now just hold your speed. I 
tried to call you, but nobody seemed 
to be able to dig you out. Some red 
lights showed up.” 

“Naval craft?” 

“Seems so. They weren’t follow- 
ing reasonable commercial trajecto- 
ries. As I figure it, our pal, the new 
Administrator, hollered for help to 
Venus, and they gave it to him — just 
a friendly gesture of interplanetary 
good will!” he added dryly. 

“What happened?” 

“Mine-laying maneuvers ahead of 
us. As near as I could tell from 
their numbers and courses, they 
were lacing space with the thickest 
case of smallpox they could manage 
— an all-out job.” 

“So?” 

Lazarus shrugged his shoulders. 
“I had to duck. I had to duck the 
only way they left open — closer to 
the Sun.” 

The Sun is not a large star, as 
stars go, nor very hot. It is just 
that it is hot with reference to men. 
Hot enough to strike them down 
dead ninety-two million miles away 
if they are careless about remember- 
ing to wear hats in tropic noonday. 
Hot enough that mankind, reared 



88 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



under its rays, dare not look at it 
with bare eyes. 

At a distance of two and one half 
million miles, the Sun beats out with 
a glare fourteen hundred times as 
bright and as hot as the hottest ever 
endured in Death Valley, Zanzibar, 
or the Sahara. And that is another 
incommensurable — such radiance 

would not be perceived as heat nor 
light; it would be death more sudden 
than the full power of a blaster. 

It was hot inside the ship. The 
passengers had the relief of pseudo- 
gravity now, for Lazarus had to spin 
the ship to permit some little of the 
flood of radiant energy to re-radiate 
from the “cold” side. The outer 
walls of the ship were built as a grid 
of thermo cells for the purpose of 
absorbing and storing unwelcome 
energy, but they were not built — 
could not be built — for any such 
load as this. Heat must go some- 
where. 

It was hot in the control room. 
An enormous circle of blackness 
marked the place where the image 
of the Sun should have stood on the 
hemisphere of the stellarium; the 
screens automatically cut out in the 
face of such a ridiculous demand. 

When Lazarus spoke it was to re- 
peat the last words Libbey had ut- 
tered: 

“ ‘An hour and thirty-seven min- 
utes to perihelion.’ We can’t take it, 
Andy. The ship can’t take it.” 

“I know. I never intended for us 
to pass this close.” 

“Of course you didn’t. Maybe I 
shouldn’t have maneuvered. Maybe 
we would have missed the mines, 
anyhow. Oh, well — ” He squared 
his shoulders and consigned the sub- 
ject to the realm of might-have- 
beens. “It looks to me, son, like it 
was about time to try out your 
gadget.” He poked a thumb in the 
general direction of Libbey ’s un- 



couth-appearing space drive. “How 
does it work, now? You say that 
all you have to do is to hook up this 
one connection?” 

“That is what is intended. The 
one lead to any portion of the mass 
it is to affect. Of course, I don’t 
know that it will work,” he admit- 
ted. “There was no way to test it.” 
“Suppose it doesn’t?” 

“There are three possibilities,” 
Libbey answered methodically. “In 
the first place, nothing at all may 
happen. In the second place, we 
and the ship may cease to be matter 
as we know it — ” 

“Dead, you mean.” 

“Yes, I suppose so. In the third 
place, if my hypotheses are justified, 
we will recede from the Sun at a 
speed just under that of light.” 
Lazarus eyed the gadget and 
wiped at his bare shoulders. “It’s 
getting hotter, Andy. Hook it up — 
and it had better be good!” 

Libbey hooked it up. 

“Go ahead,” urged Lazarus. 
“Finish it. Push the button, throw 
the switch, cut the beam. Make it 
march.” 

“I have,” Libbey insisted. “Look 
at the Sun.” 

“Huh? Oh!” The great circle of 
blackness which had described the 
relative position of the Sun on the 
star-speckled surface of the stel- 
larium was shrinking visibly. In a 
dozen heartbeats it lost half its di- 
ameter. Twenty seconds more and 
it had shrunk to a quarter of its 
original width. 

“It worked,” said Lazarus softly. 
“Write me down for a Chinaman — 
it worked!” 

“I rather thought it would,” Lib- 
bey answered seriously. “It should, 
you know.” 

“Hm-m-m. That may be evident 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



89 



to you, Andy. It’s not to me. How 
fast are we going?” 

“Relative to what?” 

“Relative to the Sun.” 

“I haven’t had opportunity to 
measure it yet, but it seems to be 
just under the speed of light. It 
can’t be greater.” 

“Why not — aside from theoretical 
considerations?” 

“We still see.” Libbey pointed to 
the stellarium ceiling. 

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Lazarus 
mused. “Say, wait a minute. We 
ought not to be able to — Doppler’s 
effect.” 

“That is odd,” Libbey agreed. 
“One would think that the Sun’s 
light would have been shifted clear 
out of the visible spectrum. No. 
No, of course not, shorter radiation 
would simply replace it, in so far as 
the vision-screen receptors are con- 
cerned. I should judge that we are 
‘seeing’ by means of the shortest and 
hardest of the Sun’s radiation — 
shorter than anything we normally 
have the means to detect.” 

“It sounds good,” said Lazarus, 
“the way you tell it. I’ll believe any- 
thing right at the moment. Any- 
body that wants to dispose of an op- 
tion on lunar green cheese will find 
my sales resistance awful low.” 
Libbey smiled politely and bent 
over his space drive. “We might as 
well return to normal operation,” he 
said, and moved as if to disconnect. 

Lazarus stopped him hastily. 
“Hold it, Andy! We aren’t even out- 
side the orbit of Mercury. Why put 
on the brakes?” 

“Why, this won’t stop us. We 
have acquired a speed; now we will 
hold it.” 

Lazarus pulled at his cheek and 
stared at nothing. “Ordinarily, I 
would agree with you. First law of 
motion. But with this pseudo-speed 
I’m not so sure. We got it for noth- 



ing and we haven’t paid for it — in 
energy, I mean. You seem to have 
declared some sort of holiday with 
respect to inertia; when the holiday 
is over, won’t that free speed go back 
where it came from?” 

“No, I don’t believe so,” Libbey 
countered. “This velocity isn’t 
pseudo anything; it’s real as velocity 
can be. You are attempting to ap- 
ply verbal anthropomorphic logic to 
a field in which it is not pertinent. 
You would not expect us to be trans- 
lated instantaneously back to the 
lower gravitational potential from 
which we started, would you?” 
“Back to where you hooked in 
your space drive? No, we’ve 
moved.” 

“And we will keep on moving. 
The acquired gravitational potential 
energy of greater height above the 
Sun is no more real than the ac- 
quired kinetic energy of velocity.” 
Lazarus looked baffled. The ex- 
pression did not seem to suit his 
features. “It looks like you’ve got 
me, Andy. No matter which way 
you look at it, we seem to have 
picked up energy from nowhere. I 
don’t get it. Where I went to school 
they taught me to honor the flag, 
vote the straight^ party ticket, and 
to believe in the law of conservation 
of energy. Seems like you’ve vio- 
lated it. How about it?” 

“I wouldn’t worry too much about 
it,” suggested Libbey. “The so- 
called law of conservation of energy 
was a working hypothesis, unproved 
and unprovable, used to describe a 
number of gross phenomena. It’s 
very, terms were applicable only to 
the older dynamic concept of the 
world. In a plenum, conceived as a 
static grid of relationships, a 
so-called violation in the law of con- 
servation of energy appears as noth- 
ing more startling than a discontinu- 
ous function, to be noted and 



90 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



described. That’s what I did; I saw a 
theoretical possibility of a discon- 
tinuity in the aspect of mass energy 
called inertia. I applied it.” 

He reached over and disconnected 
his apparatus. 

Nothing happened. The disk of 
black continued to shrink. When its 
diameter had decreased to approxi- 
mately one sixth of its former maxi- 
mum — almost ninety seconds after 
the inception of the space-drive ef- 
fect — it suddenly changed from 
black to shining white. The ship 
had receded to a sufficient distance 
from the Sun for the vision screens 
again to handle the load of its bril- 
liance. 

Lazarus said nothing. He was 
trying to work out in his head the 
kinetic energy of the ship — one half 
of the square of velocity of light 
times the mass of the ship. The an- 
swer did not comfort him, whether 
he called it ergs or apples. 

“First things first,” said Zaccur 
Barstow. “I am as much interested 
in the startling scientific aspects of 
our present situation as any of you, 
but we have got to work out some 
pattern of daily living. Let’s table 
mathematical physics and talk about 
organization.” 

He was speaking to his “brain 
trust” — not the trustees, but his key 
personnel in putting over the events 
leading up to the flight in the New 
Frontiers — Ralph Schultz, Eve Bar- 
stow, Mary Risling, Justin Foote, 
Clive Johnson, several others. Laza- 
rus and Slipstick Libbey were both 
there; the control room had been left 
manned only by Slayton Ford — not 
that he was to touch the controls; he 
had been given the token task of 
seeing to it that ho one else touched 
them, that being Lazarus’ notion of 
ad interim occupational therapy. 

Lazarus had seen, or sensed, in 



Ford a mental condition which Laza- 
rus did not like. He was no psy- 
chologist, but the gross symptoms of 
a situational psychosis he feltjn be 
present. 

“We need an executive,” contin- 
ued Barstow. “Someone who, for 
the time being, at least, will have ex- 
tensive authority to make decisions, 
set up an internal organization, give 
orders, and have them carried out. 
I would like to have our brethren 
hold an election and do the task 
democratically, but the work to be 
done is too urgent. Democracy will 
have to wait on expediency.” 

“It seems to me,” said Eve Bar- 
stow, “that the thing to do is to put 
it up to the trustees. We were an 
emergency group; the situation that 
called us into being no longer ob- 
tains.” 

“Ahrrmph — ” It was Justin 

Foote, in tones as dry and formal as 
his face. “I differ somewhat from 
our sister. The trustees are not con- 
versant with the full background; we 
would have to spend time in bring- 
ing them up to date, as it were, be- 
fore they would be able to judge the 
matter. Furthermore, as one of the 
trustees, I think I speak without 
prejudice when I state that the trus- 
tees, as an organized group, have no 
jurisdiction. Legally, they do not 
exist .” 

“How do you arrive at that, Jus- 
tin?” Lazarus asked with interest. 

. “Thus: The board of trustees 

were the custodians of a foundation 
which existed with relation to — in 
apposition to — a society. They were 
not a government; their duties had 
to do solely with the relations be- 
tween the Families and society. 
With the ending of the relationship 
between the Families and terrestrial 
society, the board of trustees, ipso 
facto, ceases to exist. 

“We in this ship are not yet a so- 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



91 



ciety, we are an anarchistic group. 
The present assemblage has as much 
— or as little — authority to initiate a 
society as any part group.” 

Lazarus applauded. “Justin,” he 
approved, “that is as neat a piece of 
verbal juggling as I have heard since 
I was a kid. Let’s get together some- 
time and have a go at solipsism.” 
Justin Foote looked vexed. “Ob- 
viously — ” he began. 

“Nope! Not another word,” Laza- 
rus interrupted; “you’ve convinced 
me. Don’t spoil it. If that’s how it 
it is, let’s get busy and pick a bull 
moose. How about you, Zack? You 
look like the obvious candidate.” 
Barstow shook his head. “No. I 
don’t know enough about such 
things, and I know that I don’t. I 
am no sociologist. The Families 
were a hobby with me, but I am an 
engineer, not an expert in social ad- 
ministration.” 

When he had convinced them that 
he really meant it, other candidates 
were suggested and their qualifica- 
tions debated — extensively. In a 
group as large as the Families there 
were many who had specialized in 
political science, many who had 
served with credit in public posi- 
tions. 

Lazarus called Eve Barstow 
aside and whispered with her for 
several minutes. 

Eve Barstow asked for the floor. 
“I have a candidate to propose,” she 
began in her usual gentle tones. 
“One who would not ordinarily oc- 
cur to you, but who is incomparably 
better fitted, by temperament, train- 
ing, and experience, to do this job 
than anyone yet proposed. 

“For civil administrator of the 
ship I nominate Slayton Ford.” 

For some minutes no one seemed 
able to speak, then they all tried to 
talk at once. “What’s happened to 



her? Ford’s back on Earth!” “No, 
he’s not — he’s here — in the ship. But 
it’s out of the question!” “It 
wouldn’t work.” “The Families 
would never accept him.” “Even so, 
he’s not one of us.” 

Eve patiently kept the floor until 
they had quieted down. “I know my 
proposal sounds ridiculous and I ad- 
mit there are difficulties. But there 
are great advantages. You all know 
Slayton Ford by reputation and per- 
formance. You know, and every 
member of the Families knows, that 
Slayton Ford is a true genius in the 
field of society relationships. It will 
be hard enough to work out plans 
for living together in this badly over- 
crowded ship; the best talent we can 
get will be no more than enough.” 
Her words carried weight; Ford 
was that rare thing among states- 
men, a man whose worth was uni- 
versally acknowledged during his 
own term of office. Current histori- 
ans credited him with having nursed 
the Western Federation through two 
of its development crises. That 
events should have faced him with a 
social conflict not solvable by any 
ordinary means was his misfortune 
rather than his failure. 

“I agree with you,” observed Zac- 
cur Barstow, “in your opinion of 
Ford’s ability, and, for myself, I 
would be more than willing to accept 
his administration. But we must re- 
member that Ford embodies to every 
Member but ourselves the persecu- 
tion which has made them refugees. 
It seems to me that that makes him 
an impossible candidate.” 

“We have already agreed,” an- 
swered Eve, “that we must under- 
take an indoctrination campaign to 
render palatable a number of embar- 
rassing facts about the events of the 
past few days. It seems to me pos- 
sible to include therein the idea that 
Ford is a martyr who sacrificed him- 






ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



self to save our lives.” 

“Perhaps you are right; it is be- 
yond my ability to determine. He 
was, indeed, a martyr, though not 
entirely in our behalf. But I must 
ask for expert opinion. How about 
it, Ralph? Could it be done?” 

Ralph Schultz considered his an- 
swer before replying. “The truth or 
falsity of a proposition has nothing 
to do with its psychodynamic as- 
pects. The proposition concerning 
Ford does not jibe with the indoc- 
trination program I had prepared, 
but I believe that a new schedule 
could be worked out to include it. 
The proposition has certain senti- 
mentally dramatic qualities about it 
which lends it to manipulation, even 
though it must be launched in the 
face of a strong counterproposition.” 

“How long will it take to estab- 
lish it?” 

“Well, I could prepare a suitable 
set of rumors in an hour or two. I 
would want to launch them at once, 
since I am almost without data as 
to the spontaneous rumors which are 
current in the ship. I can only esti- 
mate the speed of propagation in an 
un surveyed field such as this, but 
you should be ready for public an- 
nouncements by tomorrow.” 

Schultz’s sanguine outlook con- 
vinced the rest. On Barstow’s sug- 
gestion, Lazarus phoned Ford and 
told him to come aft to the meeting 
place. 

Lazarus had not explained to him 
why his presence was required. He 
entered the compartment like a man 
come to judgment, come with a bit- 
ter certainty that the outcome will 
be against him. His manner showed 
fortitude, but not hope. His eyes 
were unhappy. 

Lazarus had studied those eyes 
during the fifty hours and more that 
they had been shut up together in 



the control room. They bore an ex- 
pression that Lazarus had seen be- 
fore several times in his long and 
varied life. 

The condemned man who has lost 
his final appeal, the fully resolved 
suicide, little furry things exhausted 
and defeated in their struggles with 
the unrelenting steel of traps — in the 
eyes of each of these there is a sin- 
gle expression, borne of the convic- 
tion that his time has run out. It 
is a gentle expression, but infinitely 
terrifying to those, the living, who 
see it in another. 

Ford’s eyes held it. 

Lazarus had seen it there and, at 
first, had been perplexed by it. To 
be sure, they all were in a dangerous 
predicament, but Ford no more than 
the rest — besides, the realization of 
danger brings a live expression. 
Why should Ford’s eyes hold the sig- 
nal of death? 

Lazarus concluded that it could 
only be because Ford had reached 
the state of mind which makes sui- 
cide necessary — but why? He had 
mulled it over, seeking the cause, 
during the long watches in the con- 
trol room, and had reconstructed the 
answer to his own satisfaction. Back 
on Earth, Ford had been a person of 
importance among his own kind, the 
short-lived. His position and re- 
sponsibilities had rendered him al- 
most immune to the feeling of de- 
feated inferiority which the long- 
lived Members provoked in the peo- 
ple of three-score-and-ten. But in 
the ship he was the only ephemeral 
in a race of Methuselahs. 

He had neither the experience of 
the elders nor the expectations of the 
young; he felt inferior to both, hope- 
lessly outclassed. Correct or not, 
he believed himself to be a useless 
pensioner, an impotent object of 
charity. 

To a person of Ford’s busy use- 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



93 



ful background the situation was in- 
tolerable, and held but one solution. 
Ford’s own pride and strength of 
character w'ere driving him into the 
dead end of suicide. 

As he came into the conference 
room. Ford’s glance sought out Zac- 
ctir Barstow. “You sent for me?” 
“Yes,” Barstow answered, and ex- 
plained briefly the situation and the 
desire of the group. “You are un- 
der no compulsion,” he concluded, 
“but we need your services if you 
will give them to us; Will you?” 
Lazarus’ heart felt light as he 
watched Ford’s expression change to 
amazement. “Do you mean that?” 
Ford asked slowly. “You are not 
joking with me?” 

“Most certainly we mean it.” 
Ford did not answer at once. 
When he did, his words seemed in- 
consequential. “May I sit down?” 
A place was found for him. He 
settled heavily into the chair and 
covered his face with his hands. No 
one spoke. Presently he raised his 
head and spoke in a steady voice, 
“If that is your will, I will do my 
best to carry out your wishes.” 

The ship had flicked by Earth’s 
orbit less than ten minutes after Lib- 
bey had cut in his space drive. He 
and Lazarus had discussed the eso- 
teric physical aspects of the ship’s 
speed all the way to the orbit of 
Mars — something less than a quar- 
ter of an hour. Jupiter’s path was 
still far distant when Barstow called 
the conference together which had 
selected Ford. It had taken nearly 
an hour to locate the conferees in 
the disorganized mob which crowded 
the ship. By the time they had got- 
ten down to business, Saturn’s orbit 
lay behind them — elapsed time from 
“Go!” less than an hour and a half. 

But, to put it gently, distances 
stretch out beyond Saturn. Uranus 



found them still in discussion, but 
Ford’s name was agreed on, he had 
been notified and had accepted, be- 
fore the ship was as distant from the 
Sun as Neptune. 

Ford was in conference with Zac- 
cur Barstow and Ralph Shultz, had 
made his tentative decisions as to 
organization, and had authorized 
Schultz to go ahead with his plans 
for “breaking the news” to the ship’s 
company, when the ship reached the 
locus of Pluto — nearly four billion 
miles deep into space, less than six 
hours after the Sun’s light had 
blasted them away from its side. 

They were not yet out of the Solar 
System, but between them and the 
stars lay nothing but the winter 
homes of the comets and the hiding 
places of hypothetical trans-Plu- 
tonian planets — space in which the 
Sun held options, but could hardly 
be said to own in fee simple. But 
even the nearest stars were still light- 
years away. The New Frontiers was 
headed for them at a pace which 
crowded the heels of light itself — 
weather cold, track fast. 

Lazarus refused to be captain. 
“Uh-uh,” he told Ford and the rest. 
“Not me. I may just spend this trip 
playing checkers. Libbey’s your 
man. Serious-minded, conscientious, 
former naval officer — just the type 
for you.” 

Libbey blushed as their eyes 
turned toward him. “Now r , really,” 
he protested, “while it’s true that I 
have had to command ships in the 
course of my duties, I am a staff of- 
ficer by temperament. I don’t feel 
like a commanding officer.” 

“Don’t see how you can get out 
of it,” Lazarus persisted. “You in- 
vented the space drive and you are 
the only one who understands it.” 

“But that does not follow at all,” 
objected Libbey. “I am perfectly 
willing to be astrogator, for that is 



94 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




consonant with my talents. But I 
much prefer to serve under a com- 
manding officer.’* 

“I don’t see how we are to avoid 
it,” Ford answered him. “It may be 
appropriate for me to administer the 
internal affairs of the ship, but I 
can’t act as captain — I am in no 
wise trained for it. You are.” 

“But I am not the only man 
aboard with such training,” Libbey 
said defensively. “Several hundred 
of the Members, at the very least, 
are spacemen. A good many of 
them must have been officers. Your 
man is among them, if you will look 



for him. There is plenty of time 
to locate him, as there is nothing for 
him to do just now.” 

They left it at that. 

Out, and still farther out — out to 
lonely depths were world lines are 
almost “straight,” almost free of the 
flexure of gravitation — even the 
Vanguard had not preceded them 
here, for the Vanguard's course had 
been set for Proxima Centauri. 
Each day, each week, each month o£ 
their headlong flight took them far- 
ther from all humanity. 

“The loci of our optimum 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



95 



courses,” Libbey expounded to Cap- 
tain Rufus King, skipper elect of the 
New Frontiers, “is a sheaf of half 
parabolas having their apices tan- 
gent to our present course. That 
assumes acceleration applied in ma- 
neuvering will be normal to our 
course.” 

“Yes, yes, I see that,” the captain 
cut in, “but why do you assume that 
acceleration will be at right angles to 
our course?” 

“It need not be if the captain de- 
cides otherwise,” answered Libbey, 
“but to use an acceleration with a 
component against our present speed 
would mean to attempt to backtrack 
to a destination not contemplated 
by our course in departure; while 
that is possible, it would waste our 
present velocity and require a time 
of flight adding up to generations, 
even centur — ” 

“Certainly, certainly! I under- 
stand basic ballistics, mister. But 
why do you reject the other alterna- 
tive? Why not accelerate along our 
course?” 

Libbey looked worried. “I’m not 
sure. I wish I were. It would be an 
attempt to exceed the speed of light. 
That has been assumed to be im- 
possible — ” 

“It seems like a good time to find 
out.” 

“But is it, captain? I am not able 
to visualize what conditions would 
obtain, but it seems likely that we 
would be cut off from the electro- 
magnetic spectrum entirely in so far 
as bodies outside this ship are con- 
cerned. How could we see to astro- 
gate?” Libbey had more than theo- 
retical considerations to worry him 
in the matter. The ship was now de- 
pendent on electromechanical vision. 
No stars were visible with the naked 
eye in the hemisphere abaft them; 
Doppler’s effect had so increased the 
sensible wave length of all stellar 



radiations as to move even the short- 
est right out of the visible spectrum. 
Forward the stars could still be seen, 
but he knew that what appeared to 
be “starlight” was in fact Hertzian 
waves of extreme wave length. 

This had been confirmed by spec- 
troscopic analysis. The “visible” 
spectrum recorded on their plates 
showed none of the familiar Fraun- 
hofer lines, showed instead a pattern 
strange to the eyes of men. 

“Hm-m-m,” King replied. “I see 
what you mean. Well, if we did not 
have our passengers to consider, I’d 
like to try it. Damme if I wouldn’t! 
But it’s out of the question. Very 
well — prepare for me optimum 
courses to type-G stars lying within 
this trumpet-flower locus of yours 
and not too distant. Say ten light- 
years for your preliminary search.” 

“Yes, sir. Did I mention decelera- 
tion time? It works out to just un- 
der one earth year, decelerating at 
one g — three hundred fifty-four and 
five tenths days to slow down to stel- 
lar speeds.” 

“What? What are you talking 
about? We’ll decelerate the same 
way we accelerated — with your 
light-pressure drive.” 

Libbey shook his head. “No, sir. 
It would seem so offhand, but the 
drawback of my space drive is that 
it makes no difference what your 
previous course or speed may have 
been, if you go inertialess in the 
neighborhood of a star, its light pres- 
sure kicks you away from it like a 
Ping-pong ball struck by a stream of 
water. Your previous momentum 
of velocity has been canceled out by 
the loss of mass inertia.” 

“Well,” King conceded, “let’s as- 
sume that we will do it your way. 
I can’t argue with you; there are 
still some things about that gadget 
of yours that 1 don’t understand.” 

“There are lots of things about 



99 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



it,” Libbey answered seriously, “that 
I don’t understand.” 

The New Frontiers was approxi- 
mately cylindrical in shape. When 
not under acceleration, she spun 
about her longitudinal axis, giving 
a feeling of pseudo-weight to passen- 
gers near the outer skin of the ship. 
The outer shell or “lower” level of 
compartments had been intended, 
therefore, as living compartments; 
the inner, or “upper,” levels for stor- 
age, et cetera. The main drive and 
the main converter were located 
along the axis at the highest level 
of no-weight. 

Since the design is roughly that of 
the larger free-flight ships in use to- 
day, it seems unnecessary to go into 
more detail, as long as one bears in 
mind the enormous size of the ship. 
She had been designed to provide 
ample living space for a colony of 
twenty thousand, which would allow 
the original complement to double 
their numbers en route to Proxima 
Centauri. The hundred thousand 
and more members of the Families 
found themselves overcrowded five- 
fold. 

But the space allowed per passen- 
ger had been living space, not the 
minimum passage space adequate 
for an interplanetary liner. By con- 
verting some of the recreation space 
to storerooms and adapting the 
storerooms thus cleared to the pur- 
pose of cold-sleep, the ship was 
roomy enough. The storerooms se- 
lected were in the high levels of low 
weight in order that the bodies of the 
somnolent would be subject to a 
minimum of stress. Students of bio- 
mechanics have worked out an in- 
volved empirical formula setting 
forth the relationship between im- 
pressed acceleration and body de- 
terioration in conditions of artificial 
stupor. The answers obtained de- 



pend on the drugs used, the tempera- 
ture differential above freezing, age 
— biological — sex, race, body mass, 
and many other factors. 

It suffices that, under the condi- 
tions selected in the New Frontiers, 
somnolents needed to be turned but 
once a week and required massage 
and check on blood-sugar count but 
once in three months, which greatly 
reduced the labor of caring for them. 
The care had to be taken by hand; 
the designers of the New Frontiers 
did not contemplate the necessity of 
providing facilities for tens of thou- 
sands of somnolents and had in- 
cluded no machinery for the pur- 
pose. 

Eleanor Johnson ran across her 
friend, Nancy Weatheral, in Refec- 
tory 9-D — called the “club” by its 
habitues, and less printable things 
by those who avoided it. Most of 
its frequenters were young and in- 
clined to be noisy. Lazarus was the 
only thoroughgoing oldster who ate 
there often. He did not mind noise; 
in fact, he rather enjoyed it. 

Eleanor swooped down on her 
friend and kissed the back of her 
neck. “Nancy! So you are awake 
again! My, I’m glad to see you!” 

Nancy gently disentangled her 
friend’s arms. “H’lo, babe. Don’t 
spill my coffee.” 

Eleanor was slightly miffed. 
“Aren’t you glad to see me?” 

“Certainly I am. But you forget 
that while it’s been a year to you, it’s 
only yesterday to me. And I’m still 
sleepy.” 

“How long have you been 
awake?” 

“A couple of hours. How’s that 
kid of yours?” 

“Oh, he’s fine!” Eleanor’s face 
brightened. “You wouldn’t know 
him. He’s almost up to my shoul- 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



87 



der, and he looks more like his fa- 
ther every day.” 

Nancy hastily changed the sub- 
ject. Eleanor’s friends made it a 
point to keep Eleanor’s tragically 
deceased first husband out of the 
conversation. “What have you been 
doing while I was snoozing? Still in 
the nursery?” 

“Yes,” said Eleanor, “or rather, 
no. I stay with the age group my 
Hubert is in. He’s in pre-adolescent 
primary now.” 

“Why don’t you catch a few 
months’ sleep and skip some of that 
drudgery, Eleanor? You’ll make an 
old woman out of yourself if you 
keep it up.” 

“No,” Eleanor refused, “not until 
Hubert is old enough not to need 
me.” 

“Don’t be sentimental. Half the 
female volunteers for somnolence 
are women with young children. I 
don’t blame ’em a bit. Look at me 
— from my point of view, the trip so 
far has only lasted seven months. I 
could do the rest of it standing on 
my head.” 

Eleanor shook her head, her 
mouth set in stubborn lines. “No. 
•That’s all right for you, but I’m do- 
ing very nicely the way I am.” 

“She’s afraid,” volunteered Laza- 
rus, “that she’ll miss something.” 
He had been sitting at the same 
counter, doing drastic damage to a 
sirloin steak surrogate and listening. 
“I don’t blame her. So am I.” 

Nancy changed her tack. “Then 
have another child. That’ll get you 
relieved from routine duties.” 

“It takes two to arrange that,” 
pointed out Eleanor. 

“But that’s no hazard. Here’s 
Lazarus, for example. He’d make a 
plus father.” 

Eleanor dimpled. Lazarus blushed 
under his permanent tan. “As a 
matter of fact,” Eleanor stated 



evenly, “I proposed to him and was 
turned down.” 

Nancy sputtered into her coffee 
and looked quickly from one face to 
the other. She seemed unwilling to 
believe her ears. “It’s because,” 
Eleanor went on, “I am one of his 
granddaughters, four times re- 
moved.” 

“But . . . but that’s well within 
the limits of permissible consanguin- 
ity. What’s the hitch? Converg- 
ence?” 

Eleanor did not answer. Lazarus 
felt forced to reply. “I know I'm 
old-fashioned,” he said uncomforta- 
bly, “but I soaked up some of my 
ideas a long time ago. Genetics or 
no genetics, I just wouldn’t feel right 
marrying one of my own grandchil- 
dren.” 

“I’ll say your old-fashioned!” 
Nancy commented scornfully. “Or,” 
she added, “maybe you are just shy. 
I’m tempted to propose to you my- 
self and find out.” 

Lazarus glared at her. “Go ahead 
and see what a surprise you get!” 

Nancy looked him over coolly. 
“Hm-m-m,” she said meditatively. 

Lazarus tried to outstare her, but 
finally dropped his eyes. “I’ll have 
to ask you ladies to excuse me,” he 
said nervously. “Work to do.” 

Eleanor laid a gentle hand on his 
arm. “Don’t' go, Lazarus. Nancy 
is a cat and can’t help it. Tell her 
about the plans for landing.” 

“What’s that? Are we going to 
land? When?” 

Lazarus, somewhat mollified, told 
her. The type-G, or Sun type, star 
toward which they had bent their 
course was now less than a light-year 
away — a little more than seven light- 
months, to be more nearly precise. 
It was now possible to infer by para- 
interferometric methods that the 
star — ZD9817 in the catalogues, 
“our” star to the Members — had 



93 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



planets of some sort. To discover 
what sort and in particular whether 
it supported an Earth-type planet 
required a close approach at reason- 
ably low speed. 

In another month, when the ship 
would be a half light-year distant 
from the star, deceleration would 
commence. One year at one g would 
bring them to the neighborhood of 
the star, and with a relative speed 
of interplanetary magnitude. It 
would then be easy to search for and 
locate an Earth-type planet, if any 
were to be found, since it would 
shine out, like Venus from Earth, as 
a more-than-first-niagnitude lumi- 
nary. They were not interested in 
elusive cold planets, like Pluto and 
Neptune, lurking in the distant 
shadows, nor in hot planets, like 
Mercury, which hid in the flaming 
skirts of the mother body. 

The Nexv Frontiers would not 
land, Lazarus explained to Nancy; 
she was too big ever to land any- 
where, her weight would wreck her. 
Instead, she would be thrown into a 
convenient orbit around the hypo- 
thetical planet; parties would be sent 
down in ship’s boats to explore. 

Lazarus left the two young women 
as soon as face permitted and betook 
himself to the metabolism research 
laboratory. He expected to find 
Mary Risling there; the brush with 
Nancy made him feel a need for her 
company. If he ever did marry 
again, he thought to himself, Mary 
Risling was more his style. Not that 
he seriously considered the matter; 
he felt subconsciously that there 
would be too much of a flavor of 
lavender and old lace about a liaison 
between himself and Mary, 

Finding herself cooped up in the 
ship and not wishing to accept the 
little death of cold rest, Mary Ris- 
ling had turned her fear of death into 



constructive channels by volunteer- 
ing as a helper in the longevity re- 
search which was a permanent Fami- 
lies’ policy. She was not trained for 
it, but she had deft fingers and an 
agile mind. The patient years of 
the trip had made her a valuable as- 
sistant to Master Gordon Hardy, 
chief of the research. 

Lazarus found her servicing the 
deathless tissue of chicken heart — 
“Mrs. Awkins” to the laboratory 
crew — which was one of their sub- 
jects for research. Mrs. Awkins 
was older than any member of the 
Families, except possibly Lazarus 
himself. The Families had obtained 
a piece of the original tissue from the 
Rockefeller Institute around the 
middle of the twentieth century — 
the tissue had outlived the original 
chicken some fifty years even then 
— and had kept it alive by the Car- 
rel-Lindbergh-O'Shaug technique. 

Gordon Hardy had stubbornly in- 
sisted on taking it with him to the 
reservation when he was arrested; a 
slice of it had accompanied him in 
the escape Via the Chili — aseptically 
wrapped and kept safe and at proper 
temperature by holding it in his 
mouth. 

On that occasion he had refrained 
from spacesickness because he had 
to. 

Mrs. Awkins still lived and grew, 
fifty or sixty pounds of her. Mary 
Risling was reducing her size. 
“Hello, Lazarus,” she greeted him, 
“stand back. I’ve got the tank 
open.” 

He watched her slice off excess tis- 
sue. “Mary,” he mused, “what 
keeps that thing alive?” 

“You have the question inverted,” 
she answered, eyes and hands busy. 
“The question is: Why should it 

die? Why shouldn’t it go on for- 
ever?” 

“I wish to the devil it would die,” 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



09 



said a voice behind them. “Then we 
could observe it and find out why!” 
It was Master Gordon Hardy. 

“You’ll never find out from Mrs. 
Awlcins, chief,” answered Mary 
without looking up. “The key to 
the matter is in the gonads — she 
hasn’t any.” 

“Hum-m-mph! What do you 
know about it?” 

“A little, perhaps. Anyhow,” she 
added slyly, “I knew you before you 
were housebroken .” 

“That’s no argument. That lump 
of muscle cackled and laid eggs be- 
fore any of us were born, but it 
doesn’t know anything. I’d trade it 
for just one pair of carp, one female, 
one male.” 

“Why carp?” asked Lazarus. 

“Because carp never die. They 
get killed, or eaten, or starve, but 
they do not die.” 

“Why don’t they?” 

“That’s what I was hoping to find 
out when we were rushed off on this 
damned excursion. It has something 
to do with their intestinal flora and 
with their ability to keep on grow- 
ing-” 

“Amebas,” said Mary Risling, 
sotto voce. 

“Huh? What’s that?” 

“Amebas don’t die. Every one 
of them now alive has been alive 
for — oh, say fifty million years — in 
its proper person. They divide and 
live on. And they don’t have intes- 
tinal flora.” 

“They may have a parallel equiva- 
lent. Never mind,” Gordon Hardy 
went on, “I’m glad you dropped in, 
Lazarus. I want you to do me a fa- 
vor.” 

“Speak up.” 

“You’re an interesting case your- 
self, you know. I don’t want your 
body to go into the converter; I 
want to examine it.” 

Lazarus snorted. “ ’Sail right 

AST— 7h 



with me. But you’d better tell your 
successor what to look for — you may 
not live that long. And I’ll bet you 
anything you like that you won’t 
find it by poking arpund in my ca- 
daver!” 

The pi. a net was there when they 
looked for it, green, lush, and young; 
and looking as much like Earth as 
another planet could. Not only was 
it there, but the rest of the system 
duplicated roughly the pattern of 
the Solar System — small terrestrial 
planets near the Sun, large Jovian 
planets far from the Sun. Terrestrial 
cosmogonists had never been able to 
solve the mystery of the origin of 
the Solar System — there are dozens 
of “sound” mathematico-physieal 
reasons why such a system could 
never have come into existence. Yet 
here was another like it to show that 
the living paradox was not unique, 
might even be common. 

But even more startling, more 
stimulating, and at the same time 
more disturbing, was another fact 
brought out by telescopic observa- 
tion as they approached the planet 
closely. The planet held life. 

Intelligent life. Civilized life. 

Their cities were evident. Their 
engineering works, though strange 
in form and purpose, were gross 
enough to manifest themselves on 
the face of the planet. Nevertheless 
the dominant race, whatever they 
might be, appeared not to use to 
full extent the broad continents. It 
was conceivable that they could 
spare room for a colony. 

If a colony was welcome. 

“To tell the truth,” admitted Cap- 
tain Rufus King, “I did not expect 
anything resembling a high culture. 
Something like the aborigines of Ve- 
nus, perhaps, and possibly dangerous 
animals. I suppose men have come 
to assume that they are -necessarily 



100 v 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



the only civilized race. We’ll have 
to take this cautiously.” 

He made up a scouting party 
headed by Lazarus, whom he se- 
lected for the reason that he had 
come to have confidence in the 
man’s resourcefulness and will to 
survive. King would have liked to 
have gone himself, but his own con- 
cept of the first duty of a ship’s cap- 
tain forbade it. But Ford could go; 
Lazarus chose him and Ralph 
Schultz as lieutenants. The rest of 
the party were specialists of several 
sorts, biochemist, ecologist, stere- 
ographer, half a dozen types of psy- 
chologists and sociologists to study 
the natives, other experts, including 
one authority on McKelvy’s struc- 
tural theory of symbolic communica- 
tion. It would be his task to find a 
means of communicating with the 
natives. 

No weapons. 

King had flatly refused to arm the 
party. “We can afford to lose this 
reconnaissance party,” he said, “but 
we cannot afford to run the chance 
of trouble at the outset through mis- 
understanding or panic. You are 
ambassadors, not soldiers.” Lazarus 
returned to his stateroom, came 
back, and gravely delivered over to 
King one blaster. He did not find 
it necessary to mention the one that 
was still strapped to his leg. 

As King was about to tell them to 
embark, the last-minute conference 
was interrupted by Janice Schmidt. 
That strong-minded female, chief 
nurse of the Families’ congenital de- 
fectives, had pushed her way past 
the opposition of the captain’s per- 
sonal staff and demanded his atten- 
tion. His displeasure at the inter- 
ruption failed to discourage her. 

“Captain, I must speak to you 
about one of my children.” 

“Really, nurse, you are decidedly 



out of order! Get out. I'll speak 
with you later.” 

“You’ll speak with me now. This 
is the landing party, isn’t it? I’ve 
something you must hear before 
they leave.” That got his atten- 
tion; she explained briefly. Hans 
Weatheral, a youth of some ninety 
years, adolescent in appearance due 
to a hyper-active thymus gland, was 
one of her charges. He was charac- 
terized by an inferior but not mo- 
ronic mentality, a chronic apathy, 
and a nemo-muscular degeneration 
which made him too weak even to 
feed himself — and by an acute sensi- 
tivity to telepathy. 

He had informed Janice that he 
knew all about the planet they were 
about to visit and that his friends 
there were expecting him! 

Hans was not very helpful as to 
conditions on the planet, “New 
Terra.” Pressed for details as to 
what they might expect, he had 
shrugged his shoulders at their stu- 
pidity, “Oh, much like back home. 
Nice people. They go to school, 
work, go to church. Have kids and 
enjoy themselves. Nice people; 
you’ll like them.” 

But he was quite explicit on the 
point that they were expecting him, 
therefore he must go along. 

Lazarus saw Hans, Janice, and a 
stretcher for Hans added to his com- 
mand with mixed emotions. 

On retubning to the New Fron- 
tiers, Lazarus made a long and pri- 
vate verbal report to King while the 
numerous specialist reports were be- 
ing correlated into a continuity. 
“It’s amazingly like Earth, skipper, 
enough like it to make you home- 
sick. At the same time it is differ- 
ent enough to give you the willies. 
It’s like looking at your own face in 
a mirror and having it turn out to 



METHUSELAH'S CHILDREN 



101 



look like a stranger who resembled 
you — u nsettling . 

“We made a quick tour of the day 
side before landing, taking a look 
with bare eyes. Nothing to report 
in that which you haven't seen with 
the ’scopes. Then I put her down 
where Hans told me to, in the mid- 
dle of a clearing about a mile across 
near the center of one of their major 
cities. 

“Those cities have some odd fea- 
tures, by the way. I’ll get to ’em. 

“I w-ouldn’t have picked the place 
myself. I’d have preferred to land 
somewhere free from so much atten- 
tion, but you told me to play Hans’ 
hunches.” 

“You were free to use your judg- 
ment,” King reminded him. 

“Yes, I know-. Anyhow, we did it. 
By the time w-e had run atmosphere 
and radiation tests and checked for 
fungus and air-borne infection there 
was quite a crowd around us. 
You’ve seen the stereographs.” 

“Yes. Incredibly android.” 

“Android, hell! They’re men. 
Not humans, but men just the 
same.” 

King did not dispute the point. 
The stero pictures had shown him 
bipeds, bilaterally symmetric, pos- 
sessing internal skeletal framework, 
distinct heads, lens-and-camera-type 
eyes. Their eyes were their most hu- 
man and appealing features; they 
were large, limpid, and tragic, like 
those of a Saint Bernard dog. 

It was well to concentrate on the 
eyes; their other features were not 
as attractive. King turned his eyes 
away from the loose, toothless 
mouths, with bifurcated upper lips. 
It would, he thought, take some time 
to learn to love these creatures. “Go 
ahead,” he urged. 

“We opened the lock and I 
stepped out by myself, hands bare 
and trying to look friendly and 



peaceable. Three of ’em stepped up 
to me — eagerly, I w'ould describe it. 
But they lost their interest at once. 
They seemed to be waiting for some- 
one else to come out of the lock. 

“There was only one reasonable 
answer. I had ’em carry Hans out. 
They fawned on him. They treated 
him like a long-lost brother. No, 
that’s not right; it was more like a 
king returning home in triumph. 
They were polite enough with the 
rest of us, but it was Hans they 
wanted to see. Skipper, do you be- 
lieve in reincarnation?” 

“Well, not exactly. I’m open- 
minded about it. I’ve read the re- 
port of the Frawling Committee, of 
course.” 

“How would you account for the 
reception these people gave Hans?” 
“I don’t account for it. Go ahead 
with your report. Do you think it 
possible for us to colonize here?” 
“Oh, yes,” said Lazarus. “I’m 
sure on that point. You see, Hans 
really can talk to them, telepat hi- 
cally. According to Hans, their gods 
have authorized it and they have al- 
ready made plans to receive us.” 
The report was favorable on every 
point, yet Lazarus felt glum about 
it. He could not tell King why be- 
cause he did not know. 

Such unexpected co-operation 
gave the operations preparatory to 
colonizing tremendous impetus, im- 
petus reinforced by the sudden dis- 
covery on the part of every Mem- 
ber that he was sick for the feel of 
dirt under his feet and free air in his 
lungs. The Zhachera, or Jockaira — 
either form is permissible and nei- 
ther is exact — most amazingly 
evacuated an entire city, of appro- 
priate size, for the colonists’ use. 

The city was not too well adapted 
to the needs of the Earth people. 
Not that there was anything in- 



10? 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



trinsically wrong with it physically 
which could not readily be changed 
by some jury-rigged expedient; the 
city had adequate shelter structures, 
most of them underground, adequate 
fresh water for drinking, and no 
gross hazard to health or limb. 

But the cultures were basically 
different. The Jockaira were not 
human beings physically and had 
different physical requirements. 
That in itself called for adaptation, 
though probably less adaptation 
than would be required to shift from 
a New York auto-apartment to an 
igloo of the ancient Eskimos. The 
human race is physically adaptable; 
that is one of its strongest points. 

The city had no drainage system 
in any modern sense, because the 
Jockaira had different toilet require- 
ments and different ways of meeting 
them. Rather than tear up the en- 
tire city and start over again, the 
Earth engineers installed self-con- 
tained ’freshers of spaceship type, 
using both equipment taken from 
the ship and materials provided by 
their helpful but obviously baffled 
hosts. 

The Jockaira culture apparently 
did not include the idea of privacy. 
But again the hosts were helpful and 
provided thin sheets of plastic which 
were used for temporary partitions. 
(The plastic material nearly brought 
on nervous breakdowns in human 
chemical engineers who tried to ana- 
lyze it. What can one do with a 
substance which declines to respond 
in any way whatsoever to any test 
within one’s training or theoretical 
knowledge? They were reduced to 
describing its gross physical proper- 
ties and tagging it, with magnificent 
understatement, as “inert.”) The 
Jockaira were completely gregarious 
themselves and seemed unable to 
comprehend that any individual 
could prefer to be alone at any time 



for any purpose. Apparently they 
came to believe — this point is in 
doubt — that privacy held for the 
Earthmen a religious significance. 

Extensive preparations were made 
to move the hydroponic equipment, 
which was the basis of the food sup- 
ply of the New Frontiers, down to 
the planet. Ford stopped the under- 
taking when it was shown that the 
vegetable products of the planet 
were usable as human food. The 
Jockaira were superb farmers and, 
once again, quite willing to share. 
Their agricultural methods were 
highly advanced and “natural”— 
that is to say, they had followed 
the line of development historically 
common on Earth and still common 
on Venus, but which had abruptly 
ceased on Earth after the commer- 
cial development of synthetic and 
semisynthetic facsimile texture 
foods. 

Ford transferred his headquarters 
to the city. King remained in com- 
mand of the ship. Until such a time 
as quarters could be readied in the 
city for all the tens of thousands of 
somnolents still in the ship, there 
was need for dual organization. 
Sleepers were awakened and ferried 
to ground only as fast as their serv- 
ices were needed and facilities were 
ready. 

Cutting deeper than differences of 
bodily structure and physical habit 
were the intangible differences be- 
tween the two cultures. The Jock- 
aira were not human beings. They 
were ubiquitously friendly and help- 
ful, and their level of scientific cul- 
ture — control over environment — 
was at least as “high” as human 
culture, though differing in end- 
less details, but their language struc- 
ture, their social structure, their mo- 
tives, their evaluations, their ways 
of looking at things, were completely 
nonhuman. In particular, the prob- 



Jem of language communication be- 
tween the two races was not — could 
not be — completely solved. 

Oliver Johnson, semantician in 
charge of developing a lingua franca, 
found his task made comparatively 
easy by the immediate channel of 
communication through Hans 
Weatheral. “Of course,” he told 
Ford, “Hans is not exactly a genius. 
He just misses being a moron. That 
limits the words I can translate 
through him to ideas he can under- 
stand. More complex ideas will 
have to wait until we get better ac- 
quainted with the Jockaira.” 

"Does that matter very much?” 
asked Ford. “It seems to me that I 
have heard it said that four hundred 
words are enough for any language.” 

“There is a degree of truth in 
that,” admitted Johnson. “Four 
hundred words, or in any case less 
than a thousand, will do for all ordi- 
nary situations. I have tentatively 
selected not quite seven hundred 
terms, about equally divided be- 
tween substantives and operational, 
which will be the basis for our com- 
mon language. But you must not 
expect subtle discriminations nor 
high abstractions.” 

“Shucks,” put in Lazarus, “that 
ought to be enough. I don’t expect 
to make love to them, nor discuss 
poetry.” 

The Eahthmen learned the com- 
mon language in Jockaira words; it 
was too much to expect the vastly 
more numerous natives to learn 
Earth speech; furthermore, the split 
upper lip of a Jockaira could not 
manage “m,” “b,” “v,” nor “f .” The 
Earthmen all had the usual sound 
groundings in mnemonics and re- 
stricted semantics; in less than two 
weeks they were chattering with 
their friendly hosts as if they had 
known them all their lives. 

Lazarus was forced to revise his 
first bad impression of the Jockaira. 




^ Frank Gruber . . . Steve Fisher . • » 
Cornell Woolrich . . . Cleve Adams. 
They rank among the best-known mystery 
writers of our time. You pay two dollar* 
apiece for their books, published by lead- 
ing firms. 

Now — these authors, and others, are rep- 
resented in Street & Smith's amazing DE- 
TECTIVE STORY ANNUAL with four smash- 
ing book-length novels, three novelettes. 
You've never seen such stories at any price, 
anywhere. And the price you poy is twen- 
ty-five cents! 

The Annual contains 160 pages, is profusely 
illustrated on heavy paper, and has a cover 
that will stay fresh on shelves. No adver« 
tising in it at all. 

Here's a bargain that comes once in a life- 
time. You'll never find its equal in top 
detective fiction. 



If your dealer can't supply you, fill out the 
coupon below. 



• 


jli'mfllF 




| iit 1 mi it h 

i - : / ; - '■ • 

a ..vv <vc..w. 


DETECTIVE 


A «*'• *>.v X ,-y. Xvrirrw 

SB . 


STORY ANNUAL 


is : 

— ,-Xw.xv 


79 Seventh Avenue 


m igpa. 


New York City 


»v. <• v 



Here's my quarter. Please send me my 
copy of DETECTIVE STORY ANNUAL. 

Name 

Address. 

City 



State. 



101 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



It was impossible not to like them, 
once the strangeness of their ap- 
pearance had worn off. They were 
so hospitable, so friendly, so anxious 
to please. He became particularly 
attached to Ivreel Sarloo, who acted 
as a sort of liaison officer between 
the Families and the Jockaira. Sar- 
loo held a position with his own peo- 
ple which could be translated as 
“chief,” “father,” “priest,” or 
“leader” of the Ivreel family or tribe. 
Sarloo invited Lazarus to visit him 
in Sarloo’s home in the adjacent 
Jockaira city. “My people will like 
to see you and smell your skin,” he 
said. “It will be a happy -making 
thing. The gods will be pleased.” 
Sarloo seemed almost unable to 
form a sentence without making ref- 
erence to his gods. Lazarus did not 
mind; to another’s religion he was 
indifferent and tolerant. “I will 
come, Sarloo, old bean. It will be 
a happy-making thing for me, too.” 
Sarloo took him home in the com- 
mon vehicle of transportation used 
by the Jockaira, a wheelless wain, 
shaped more or less like a soup bowl, 
which moved quietly and rapidly 
over the ground, skimming the sur- 
face in apparent contact. Lazarus 
squatted on the floor of the vessel 
while Sarloo caused the car to move 
forward at a speed which made Laza- 
rus’ eyes water. 

“Sarloo,” asked Lazarus, shouting 
to make himself heard over the wind 
of their motion, “how does this thing 
work? What moves it?” 

“The gods breathe on the” — he 
used an expression not in the lingua 
franca — “and cause it to need to 
change its place.” 

Lazarus started to ask for a fuller 
explanation, then subsided. There 
had been something vaguely familiar 
about the answer; he now placed it. 
It had been much the same sort of 
an answer he had given one of 



the water people of Venus when 
pressed for an explanation of the 
Diesel engine of an early type of 
swamp tractor. He had not meant 
to be mysterious, but the paucity of 
common language forced him to be. 
Well, there was a way to get around 
that — 

“Sarloo, I want to see pictures of 
what happens inside,” he said, point- 
ing. “You have pictures?” 

“Pictures are,” Sarloo acknowl- 
edged, “in the temple. You must 
not enter the temple.” His great 
eyes looked mournful to Lazarus, 
giving Lazarus a strong feeling that 
the Jockaira grieved over his friend’s 
lack of grace. Lazarus hastily 
dropped the matter. 

But the thought of the Venusians 
brought another puzzler to mind. 
The water people, cut off from the 
outside w’orld as they were by the 
omnipresent clouds of Venus, simply 
did not believe in astronomy. The 
arrival of Earthmen on Venus 
caused them to readjust their views 
of the cosmos, but there was reason 
to believe that their orthodox ex- 
planations did not even approximate 
the truth. Lazarus wondered what 
the Jockaira thought about visitors 
from space. They had not shown 
surprise — or had they? 

“Sarloo,” he asked, “do you know 
where I and my brothers came 
from?” 

“I know,” said Sarloo. “You 
came from a distant sun — so distant 
that many seasons would come and 
go while light traveled that long 
journey.” 

“Who told you that?” 

“The gods tell us. Your brother 
Libbey spoke of it.” 

Lazarus was walling to lay long 
odds that the gods had not gotten 
around to mentioning it until Lib- 
bey explained it to Sarloo. But he 
held his peace. He still wanted to 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



IOC 



ask Sarloo whether 01 not it had sur- 
prised him to have visitors arrive 
from the skies, but he could think of 
no Jockaira term for surprise or won- 
der. He was still trying to phrase 
the question when Sarloo spoke 
again: 

“The fathers of nay people flew 
through the skies as you did, but 
that was before the coming of the 
gods. The gods, in their wisdom, 
bade us stop.” 

And that, thought Lazarus, is one 
damn big lie, from pure swank. 
There was not the slightest evidence 
that the Jockaira had ever been off 
the surface of their planet. 

At Sarloo’s home that evening, 
Lazarus sat through a long session 
of what he presumed was intended as 
entertainment for the guest. He 
squatted beside Sarloo on a raised 
portion of the floor of the large un- 
derground common room of the tribe 
Kreel and listened to a couple of 
hours of howling that might have 
been intended as singing. Lazarus 
felt that better music would result 
from stepping on the tails of twenty 
assorted dogs, but it seemed to be 
expected that he would enjoy it. 

Libbey, Lazarus recalled, had in- 
sisted that this mass howling which 
the Jockaira were wont to indulge in 
was, in fact, music, and that men 
could learn to enjoy it by studying 
the interval relationships. Lazarus 
doubted it. 

But he had to admit that Libbey 
seemed to understand the Jockaira 
better than he did in some ways. 
Libbey had been delighted to dis- 
cover that the Jockaira were excel- 
lent and subtle mathematicians. In 
particular, they had a grasp of num- 
bers which paralleled his own wild 
talent. In consequence, their arith- 
metics were incredibly involved for 
normal humans. A number, any 



number, large or small, was to them 
unique and capable of being grasped 
in itself, and not simply as a group- 
ing of small numbers. In conse- 
quence, they used any convenient 
positional notation with any base, 
rational, irrational, or variable — or 
none at all. 

It was luck, thought Lazarus, that 
Libbey was available to act as a 
mathematical interpreter between 
the Jockaira and the Members; oth- 
erwise the Earthmen would never 
have been able to grasp a lot of new 
technologies the Jockaira were 
teaching them. He wondered why 
the Jockaira showed no interest in 
Earth techniques strange to them 
which the Members offered in re- 
turn. 

The ululating cacophony died 
away, which returned Lazarus’ 
thoughts to the scene at hand. Food 
was brought in; the Kreel family 
tackled it with the same jostling en- 
thusiasm with which the Jockaira 
did everything. Dignity, thought 
Lazarus, is an idea which apparently 
never took hold here. A large flat 
bowl, fully two feet across and brim- 
ful of an amorphous mess, was 
placed in front of Kreel Sarloo. A 
dozen Kreels crowded around it, giv- 
ing no precedence to their senior. 
Sarloo casually slapped a couple of 
youngsters out of the way and 
plunged a hand into the dish, bring- 
ing forth a gob of the ration, which 
he rapidly kneaded into a ball in the 
palm of his two-thumbed hand. This 
done, he thrust it toward Lazarus’ 
mouth. 

Lazarus was not a squeamish man, 
but he had to recall consciously, first, 
that food for Jockaira was food for 
men; and second, that he could not 
catch anything from them, anyhow, 
before he could bring himself to in- 
gest the proffered morsel. 

He took a large bite. Hm-m-m — 



J06 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



not bad, rather bland and sticky, no 
particular flavor. Not good, either, 
but it could be swallowed. With a 
grim determination to uphold the 
honor of his race, he ate on, while 
promising himself a proper meal in 
the near future. When he felt that 
to swallow another mouthful would 
be to invite disaster, he thought of 
a possible way out. Reaching his 
hand into the common plate, he ob- 
tained a large bite which he offered 
to Sarloo. It seemed to be a piece of 
inspired diplomacy. For the rest of 
the meal Lazarus fed Sarloo, fed him 
until his arm was tired, until he mar- 
veled at his host’s ability to tuck it 
away. 

Lazarus slept with the family — lit- 
terallv. They slept where they had 
eaten, without benefit of beds, and 
disposed as casually as leaves fallen 
on a path, or puppies in a pen. To 
his own surprise, Lazarus slept well 
and did not awaken until the false 
suns in the cavern roof glowed in 
mysterious sympathy of the new 
dawn. Sarloo was still asleep near 
him, and giving forth most human- 
like snores. Lazarus found that one 
of the infant Jockaira had nested 
spoon fashion against his stomach. 

He felt a movement behind his 
back, a rustle at his thigh. He 
turned over cautiously and found 
that another young Jockaira — a six- 
year-old in equivalent human terms 
— had extracted his blaster from its 
holster and was now gazing curiously 
down its barrel. 

With hasty caution, Lazarus extri- 
cated the deadly toy from the child’s 
unwilling lingers, noted with relief 
that the safety catch w'as on, and 
reholstered it. Lazarus received a 
most reproachful look. “Sh,” said 
Lazarus, “you’ll wake your old man. 
Here — ” He gathered in the infant 
with his left arm and cradled it 
against his side. The little Jockaira 



snuggled up to him, laid a soft, moist 
mouth against his hide, and promptly 
went to sleep. 

Lazarus looked down at him. 
“You’re a cute little devil,” he said, 
half aloud. “I could grow right fond 
of you if I could ever get used to 
your smell.” 

Some of the incidents between the 
two races would have been funny 
had they not been charged with po- 
tential trouble; as, for example, in 
the case of Eleanor Johnson’s son 
Hubert. This gangly, pre-adolescent 
was a confirmed “sidewalk superin- 
tendent.” He was engaged one day 
in watching two technicians, one hu- 
man, one Jockaira, adopt a Jockaira 
power source to the needs of Earth- 
type machinery. The Jockaira was 
apparently amused by the boy, and, 
in an obviously friendly spirit, 
picked him up. The brat com- 
menced to scream. 

His mother, never far away from 
him, joined battle. She lacked the 
strength and skill to do the utter de- 
struction she was clearly bent on; the 
Jockaira was not hurt, but it cre- 
ated a nasty situation. 

Administrator Ford made every 
effort to explain the incident to the 
amazed Jockaira. Fortunately, they 
seemed hurt rather than vengeful. 

He then called in Eleanor John- 
son and dealt shortly with her. It 
was the first time any of the Mem- 
bers had known him to lose his tem- 
per. “You have endangered the en- 
tire colony by your stupidity — ” 
“But I—” 

“Keep quiet! I’ll do the talking. 
If you hadn’t spoiled the boy rot- 
ten, he would have behaved himself. 
If you weren’t a maudlin fool, you 
would have kept your hands to your- 
self. The boy goes to the regular 
development classes henceforth, and 
you are to leave him alone. At the 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



107 



slightest sign of animosity on your 
part toward any of the natives. I’ll 
have you subjected to a few years’ 
cold-rest. Now get out!” 

He was forced to use almost as 
strong measures on Janice Schmidt. 
The interest shown by the Jockaira 
in Hans Weatheral extended to all 
the sensitives, but not to the non- 
sensitive defectives. They seemed 
to be reduced to a state of quivering 
adoration by the mere fact that some 
of the defectives could communicate 
with them telepathically. Kreel 
Sarloo informed Ford that he wanted 
the sensitives to be housed sepa- 
rately from the other defectives in 
the evacuated temple of the Earth- 
men’s city, and that the Jockaira 
wished to wait on them personally. 
It was more of an order than a re- 
quest. 

Janice Schmidt submitted reluc- 
tantly to Ford’s insistence in the 
matter, and Jockaira nurses took 
over under her jealous eye. 

Every sensitive of intelligence 
level higher than the semimoronic 
Hans Weatheral promptly developed 
spontaneous — and extreme — psy- 

choses while being attended by 
Jockaira. 

Ford had another headache to 
straighten out. Janice Schmidt was 



more powerfully, more intelligently 
vindictive than Eleanor Johnson. 
Ford was forced to bind her over to 
keep the peace by threatening to re- 
tire her completely from the care of 
her beloved “children.” Kreel Sar- 
loo, distressed and apparently shaken 
to his core, accepted a compromise 
whereby Janice and her junior nurses 
took over the care of the poor psy- 
chotics while the Jockaira continued 
to minister to the sensitives of moron 
level and below. 

The gbavest difficulty arose over 
— surnames! 

The Jockaira each had individual 
names, but bore surnames as well. 
The number of surnames was lim- 
ited, as were the surnames of the 
Families. A Jockaira’s surname re- 
ferred equally to his tribe and to the 
temple in which he worshiped. 

Kreel Sarloo took up the matter 
with Ford. “High Father of the 
Strange Brothers,” he said, “the time 
has come for you and your children 
to choose your surnames.” (Bear in 
mind that the translation contains 
inherent errors.) 

Ford was used to difficulties in un- 
derstanding what the Jockaira were 
driving at when they spoke. “Sar- 
loo, friend and brother,” he an- 
swered, “I do not understand your 




108 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



words. Speak more fully.” 

Sarloo began over. “Our gods tell 
us that you, the Strange Brothers, 
have reached the time in your edu- 
cation (?) when you must select 
your tribe and temple. I have come 
to arrange with you the preparations 
(ceremonies?) by which each will 
choose his surname. I speak for the 
gods in this. Let me say, for myself, 
that it would make me happy if you, 
my brother Ford, were to choose the 
temple Kreel.” 

Ford stalled and tried to under- 
stand the implications. “I am happy 
that you wish me to have your sur- 
name. But my people have their 
own surnames.” 

Sarloo dismissed that matter with 
a flip of his lips. “Their present sur- 
names are words alone. Now they 
must choose their real surnames, the 
names of the temple and the god 
where they will worship. Children 
grow up and are no longer children.” 
Ford decided that he needed help 
and advice. “Must this be done at 
once?” 

“Not today, but in the near fu- 
ture. The gods are patient.” 

“You will hear from me.” 

Ford called in Zaccur Barstow, 
Oliver Johnson, Lazarus, and Ralph 
Schultz, and described the interview 
to them. Johnson played back the 
recording of the conversation and 
strained to catch the sense of the 
words. He prepared several alterna- 
tive translations of the dialogue 
without throwing any new light on 
the matter. “It looks,” said Lazarus, 
“like a case of join the church or j*et 
out.” 

“Yes,” mused Zaccur, “that seems 
to come through plainly enough. 
Well, I think we might go through 
the motions. Very few of the Mem- 
bers have religious prejudices suffi- 
ciently deep-seated to cause them to 
object to paying lip service to Jock- 



aira gods in the interest of the gen- 
eral welfare.” 

“I suppose not,” said Ford. “I, 
for one, have no objection to adding 
Kreel to my name and taking part in 
whatever rites they practice if it will 
enable us to live in peace. I would 
hate to see our distinctive culture 
lost in theirs, however.” 

“Don’t worry about that,” Ralph 
Schultz reassured him. “There is 
absolutely no chance of any deep- 
seated cultural assimilation. It is a 
psychological impossibility. Our 
brains are different — just how differ- 
ent I am. just beginning to guess.” 

“Yeah,” said Lazarus, “ ‘just how- 
different.’ ” 

“What’s that? What’s troubling 
you?” 

“Nothing. Only,” he added, “I 
never did share the general enthusi- 
asm for this place.” 

It was agreed that it would be wise 
to let one man take the plunge first, 
then come back and report what he 
had experienced. Schultz wanted to 
do it, but Ford vetoed it, insisting 
that it was his privilege as the re- 
sponsible executive. 

Lazarus accompanied him to the 
doors of the temple in which Ford’s 
induction was to take place. Ford 
was as bare of clothing as the Jock- 
aira, but Lazarus, since he was not 
to enter the temple, was able to keep 
his kilt. Most of the colonists, sun- 
starved after years in the ship, had 
adopted the local custom; Lazarus 
had not. Not only did his habits run 
counter to it, but a blaster is an ex- 
tremely conspicuous object on a bare 
thigh. 

Kreel Sarloo greeted them and es- 
corted Ford inside. Lazarus called 
out after them in Earth speech, 
“Keep your chin up, pal!” 

He waited. He struck a cigatette 
and smoked it. He walked up and 



METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN 



108 



down. He had no means of judging 
how long it would be; it seemed, in 
consequence, longer than it was. 

At long last the doors slid back 
and natives crowded out through 
them. They seemed curiously 
worked up about something, and 
none of them came near Lazarus. 
The press that still existed in the 
doorway separated, forming an aisle, 
and a figure came running headlong 
through it and out into the open. 

Lazarus recognized Ford. 

Ford did not stop where Lazarus 
waited, but plunged on blindly. He 
tripped himself and fell. Lazarus 
hurried to where he lay. 

The man made no effort to get up. 
He lay sprawled face down, his 
shoulders heaving violently, his be- 
ing torn by sobs. 

Lazarus shook him. “Slayton,” 
he demanded, “what’s happened? 
What’s wrong with you?” Ford 
turned wet and horror-stricken eyes 
to him, checking his sobs momen- 
tarily. He did not speak, but he 
seemed to recognize Lazarus. He 



flung himself on him, clung to him, 
wept more violently than before. 

Lazarus wrenched himself free of 
the embrace and slapped Ford hard. 
“Snap out of it,” he commanded. 
“Tell me what’s the matter!” 

Ford shook his head at the slap 
and ceased his outcries, but he said 
nothing. His eyes were dazed. A 
shadow fell across Lazarus’ line of 
sight. He spun around, covering 
with his blaster. Kreel Sarloo stood 
a few feet away and did not come 
closer — not because of the weapon; 
he was innooent of knowledge of its 
purpose. 

“You!” said Lazarus. “For the — 
What did you do to him?” 

Checking himself, he switched to 
speech that Sarloo could understand. 
“What has happened to my brother 
Ford?” 

“Take him away,” said Sarloo, his 
lips twitching. “This is a bad thing. 
This is a very bad thing.” 

“You’re telling me!” said Lazarus. 
He did not bother to translate. 



TO BE CONCLUDED. 



fUMICflL LflBORflTORy 

Again, opinion was rather evenly divided among the stories of the June 
issue, resulting in high point scores. The result as of mid-June were: 



ace 


Story 


Author 


Points 


1 . 


A Matter of Speed 


Harry Bates 


1.66 


8. 


Old Fireball 


Nat Schachner 


3.85 


3. 


Time Wants a Skeleton 


Ross Rocklynne 


3.50 


4. 


Artnan Process 


Theodore Sturgeon 


3.66 


5. 


Devil’s Powder 


Malcolm Jameson 


4.40 



The Editor. 



110 



PRELUDE 10 {fl6IHE£RMG 

When does an act become the use of tools as distinct from the use 
of a specially evolved limb or attachment ? When does engineer- 
ing begin — is a beaver an engineer or simply an animal follow- 
ing an instinctive pattern? A fact article on animal engineering. 

By Illy Ley 



The life of the termites of South 
America must be close to complete 
happiness. At any event they never 
have to go without food. Their so- 
cial system may have many disad- 
vantages, but not to a termite that 
doesn’t know any better. Love 
never troubles the average termite 
and there are rarely any attacks by 
enemies to be repulsed. 

In fact those termites have only 
two main enemies: the anteaters and 
some tribes of South American In- 
dians. The anteaters live on ter- 
mites— and the Indians like them, 
especially the large heads of the 
“soldiers” that consist mainly of 
head anyway. When an anteater has 
decided that it is time for breakfast, 
lunch or dinner, it approaches a ter- 
mite hill without fear, w T ell pro- 
tected by a fur that stops bird shot 
and is said to resist even small cali- 
ber bullets. Needless to say that 
the termites cannot penetrate. Then 
the anteater squats down and be- 
gins to hack a hole in the walls of 
the hill, using its large and im- 
mensely powerful claws as a woods- 
man would use his ax. Hundreds 
of very angry termites appear 
promptly and then the anteater 
dangles its very long and wormlike 
tongue among them and begins to 
eat a big one-course meal. 

The Indians, as has been said, like 



termites. They go to the nearest 
hill they can find, armed with a 
handy stone and a few long pieces 
of straw. The stone serves as a 
hammer to breach the hard w'all of 
the termite hill. Then a straw' is 
inserted, the soldier termites attack 
it as “enemy,” bite into it with 
power and thoroughness and soon 
find themselves in the mouth of the 
Indian who drags the straw through 
his teeth. 

Anthropologists and scientists 
from neighboring fields of know ledge 
do not quite agree whether the In- 
dian’s practice is a direct imitation 
of the anteater’s way of feeding or 
w'hether the Indians invented their 
hunting method independently. But 
every scientist agrees emphatically 
that this is an exemplum magnum 
of the real difference between Man 
and animal. The animal, to accom- 
plish a certain feat, has to have or 
to evolve a special organ for this 
accomplishment: while the man in- 
vents a tool. It is ridiculously easy 
to prove the enormous advantage of 
the human method. To cut or slash 
an animal has to grow claws or saber 
teeth; the man takes a knife. After 
the hunt or the w'ar is over the man 
puts the knife away and his hand is 
still as good as it w r as before, good 
for sewdng or painting or writing and 
all other kinds of fine work. But the 



PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING 



111 



animal’s body is cluttered up with 
claws or teeth or other organs and 
not much good for anything else. 

This is, of course, also the reason 
why highly specialized animals do 
not survive a change of environ- 
ment. The advantage of their spe- 
cialization was great, but of tem- 
porary value only. The more 
primitive ancestors and cousins never 
had that great advantage, but when 
changes come they continue to mud- 
dle through successfully. 

It is not just a curious accident 
that Man, anatomically speaking, is 
as primitive as possible. About all 
that anatomists are able to detect 
in a careful examination is a slight 
specialization of the frontal teeth — 
said to be adapted to scooping out 
juicy fruit pulp; a somewhat more 
distinct — but very obscure — speciali- 
zation of the feet; and a very pro- 
nounced — and not at all obscure — 
specialization of the brain. It is the 
latter, of course, which conceived the 
tools, thus permitting the body to 
remain primitive and unarmed — for 
weapons, are only a special kind of 
tool. 

Blaise Pascal came very close to 
the truth when he said that “Man 
is but a reed, the weakest in Nature, 
but he is a thinking reed.” The 
wrong part in this sentence is the 
statement about weakness — because 
adaptability is anything but weak- 
ness. And that adaptability also 
provides for something that could 
not be accomplished in any other 
way; it furnishes additional “body 
space.” An animal has normally 
four limbs, one head and one tail to 
carry tools around with; the man can 
build a tool shed or an armory. And 
as regards preparedness the animal 
usually has to choose between weap- 
ons or armor, while Man has to 
worry about the production for 
both. 




Fig. 1. The tree frog’s pollywogs swim 
in water — high in the air. Js the nest 
engineering, though? 



Yes, but how about those termite 
hills? They are more than just 
organs — they are fortresses of for- 
midable size and strength. They are 
so strong that no animal of approxi- 
mately the same size as a termite 
could ever hope to breach the vvalls. 
Man himself has to use a high ex- 
plosive to remove these twenty-foot 
fortresses if they get in his way. 
In that respect at least, animals do 
what Man does, they provide a 
“community armor” in lieu — or in 
addition to — individual armor. 

It is amusing that at the time 
when some authors wrote articles 
and books about the tool-vs.-organ 
thesis and all but denied “tools” to 
animals, skillfully overlooking birds’ 



m 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



nests as well as spider webs, other 
authors could not find terms suffi- 
ciently strong in admiration of the 
termite towers. Trying to impress 
their readers with the size of these 
structures they usually divided the 
height of an average tall termite 
Tower by the length of the insect and 
then multiplied that figure by six 
to show how high — expressed in feet 
— human structures would have to 
be to compete. Of course, there were 
no “comparable” structures; they 
had to use mountains. British 
authors engaged in such computa- 
tions showed a remarkable partiality 
for the Matterhorn, a 11,700-foot 
peak in the Alps. Now how did the 
Eiffel Tower or the Woolworth 
Building in America — Chrysler and 
Empire State were still to be erected, 
then — compare with the Matter- 
horn ? 

The example is wrong, of course. 
What these authors overlooked was 
the very simple fact that the rela- 
tions between tensile strength, sur- 
face and weight change with size. 
A structure of the size of the Matter- 
horn, to be erected of stone, would 
probably have to be almost solid, 
and such a “mound” could be piled 
up if humanity really wanted to. As 
far as plain size is concerned the 
Maginot Line and the Westwall sur- 
pass anything termites ever built, 
even if the wrong method of com- 
putation be maintained for compari- 
son. 

As indicated by the termite hills 
the rule that an animal has to grow 
an organ when Man invents a tool 
is not exactly watertight. It covers 
the ground of existing facts very 
much as a net does — the ground is 
“legally” covered all right, but 
everywhere there are holes with 
thinking reeds peeping through 

Monkeys use pebbles to crack nuts 



and to throw them at people they do 
not approve of with or without rea- 
son. African apes catch ants with 
saliva-moistened blades of grass. 
Frogs living on dry land build little 
ponds for their eggs to hatch in and 
the so-called trapdoor spiders care- 
fully camouflage the entrance to the 
simple tubular burrow. 

These few random examples show 
that the field is wide and that it 
might be a good idea to attempt a 
classification. There are evidently 
three main types of animal engineer- 
ing. 

The lowest and simplest stage is 
that represented by the webs of 
spiders and the honeycombs of bees. 
It is the external use of a material 
produced by the body itself. Such 
external structures are still very close 
to organs and the dividing line be- 
tween organ and structure is pro- 
vided by the fact that an animal can 
leave its structure — at least tempo- 
rarily — and survive, but that it can- 
not leave an organ. 

A snail shell is, therefore, very 
definitely an organ; it cannot be re- 
moved without injury to the snail. 
The thought that a snail might be 
able to leave its shell and later go 
back into it sounds very much like 
a scene from one of Walt Disney’s 
“Silly Symphonies.” The very 
thought makes you visualize the 
snail in the act of sneaking up on 
somebody and hitting him over the 
head with a big stick. Till the vic- 
tim recovers, the snail is back in its 
shell and looking very sleepy, most 
innocent and not at all interested in 
outside events. But the Paper Nau- 
tilus — a king of octopus with the 
beautiful name Argonauta argo — 
can almost do that. It does not hit 
anybody over the head with a stick, 
but its shell is not attached to the 



PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING 



113 



body and it is believed that it is 
used mainly as a cradle for the 
young. 

The very fact that such a thing 
is possible at all proves that in this 
category animal engineering is still 
very close to organ growing. An- 
other example of an organ changing 
into a tool — “tool,” in this discus- 
sion, means everything used by an 
animal without being grown to its 
body — is provided by little Oiko- 
pleura. Oikopleura, living in the 
high seas — and belonging to the 
Tunicata that once almost became 
vertebrates but did not stay that 
way — produces a substance chemi- 
cally akin to cellulose. This sub- 
stance does not form a close-fitting 
shell or armor, but something like a 
barrel around the body. Oikopleura 
moves by the reaction of a tiny jet 
of water and its microscopic food is 
inhaled with the water which is to 
be jetted out in the rear. After some 
time indigestible particles accumu- 
late to such extent that Oikopleura 
cannot use its vessel any more. Or 
an enemy attacks. In either case 
Oikopleura just slips out of its boat 
and quietly exudes a new one. 

The next higher step in animal 
engineering is evidently the use of 
external material for external struc- 
tures. And the third and highest 
step is the use of tools as we under- 
stand the tenn in normal life. 

But before progressing to the next 
higher step I would like to tell briefly 
about two famous examples belong- 
ing to the first and lowest order. 

They are the “hanging puddles” 
of the flying frog from Java and the 
nests of the bird that goes under the 
name of “edible swift.” In the case 
of the flying frog male and female 
kick the gooey stuff surrounding the 
freshly laid eggs with their hind legs 
until it changes into something like 



whipped cream which then hardens 
on the outside and turns to water 
inside, as nursery puddles for the 
tadpoles to hatch and grow in. The 
“edible swift” builds its nest exclu- 
sively of its own saliva which hard- 
ens as soon as it comes into contact 
with the air. These nests look like 
small shallow saucers of white porce- 
lain and as long as the bird has not 
used them for hatching its young 
they are edible — or rather there are 
people who eat them. 

The next step is the use of external 
materials for the building of nests 
and fortresses. That step ranges 
all the way from the nest in the near- 
est hedge and the molehills in your 
front yard to those termite towers 
that were compared to the Matter- 
horn. 

The word “nest” suggests a bird’s 
nest to most people and all those who 
live in cities are more or less of the 
opinion that bird nests do not differ 
very much from each other, except 
for size. As for the building material 
it is often believed that it is a ques- 
tion of convenience, meaning that 
the bird will use what is most handy. 
None of these assumptions is true. 
In the first place there are very 
many animals other than birds that 
build nests. Particularly, some small 
rodents build nests that are hard to 
tell from genuine bird nests. Fur- 
thermore, most bird nests are so dis- 
tinct that they can be recognized 
at a glance by an expert. The role 
played by convenience or rather 
availability in the choice of the 
building material is surprisingly 
little. Birds manage to find what 
they want in fairly incredible places 
and situations and most of them are 
not at all quick to use substitutes. 
As to types, the basket nest is the 
most common. The term basket 
uest not only describes the shape of 



m 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



the finished product but also the type 
of work involved making it. 

Then there are the mud nests 
where the bird seems to have profited 
from watching a mason at work. 
These nests are often of a near- 
spherical shape with only a small 
opening. And intruders that are too 
lazy to build for themselves better 
keep away from conquests of such 
nests. The original owner is often 
not a very stubborn defender of his 
property but may have the nasty 
habit of plugging the small opening 
while the conqueror is out on busi- 
ness or even while he is asleep. 

The prize for beauty as well as for 
strength goes doubtlessly to the nest 
of Remezia, the penduline titmouse. 
Children in southeastern Poland 
use these nests as warm shoes; all 
they need to do is to widen the open- 
ing a bit so that they can get the foot 
in. 




Fig. 2. The archer Gsh yields to no one 
so far as accuracy of aim goes. 



It is important that no real tool 
has appeared so far in all these mani- 
fold activities. Rows of termite hills 
may dominate a landscape, dams 
built by beavers may change the 
character of whole forests and the 
“apartment-house nests” of certain 
African birds may spread through 
the boughs of a copse of trees — but 
it is all done with organs. The 
building material is “extraorgan ic,” 
to use the correct term which de- 
notes that it was not grown by the 
body of the animal which makes use 
of it, but is shaped and put to- 
gether with teeth and claws and bills, 
not with tools. 

The use of tools is of lesser mag- 
nitude and not always conspicuous, 
which may be the reason why it was 
not noticed so quickly. But the ex- 
amples, once recognized as such, are 
numerous and show all possible de- 
grees of ingenuity. That monkeys 
crack nuts by means of hammering 
at them with pebbles has already 
been mentioned. Since only the 
smaller varieties do that and since 
even they often enough use their 
teeth as a nutcracker I suspect that 
the invention of the hammer was 
caused by oversized nuts which were 
too large to be put into the mouth. 

Another and rather surprising use 
of a small pebble is made by an in- 
sect. The digger wasp, after having 
deposited its eggs in the ground, 
takes a tiny pebble, and, holding it 
in its mandibles, pounds the ground 
smooth with it, so that other insects 
may riot find the eggs. 

Strangely enough the use of tools 
was never developed to any appre- 
ciable extent by mammals. In fact, 
the few isolated instances in which 
monkeys and apes employed stones, 
tree branches or grass blades are the 
only examples that have come to my 
attention. Examples of birds and 



PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING 



115 



other creatures lower in the evolu- 
tionary scale are much more numer- 
ous and varied. 

You have doubtlessly heard of 
Pagurus striatus, the hermit crab, 
with its soft unarmored tail which 
is safely hidden away in the empty 
shell of a large sea snail. To add 
some real armament the crab col- 
lects sea anemones that can sting — 
usually of the variety of Sarjartia 
parasitica — and puts them on top of 
the shell. It has been observed that 
these sea anemones actually wait for 
hermit crabs. They gain consider- 
ably by that association: firstly, be- 
cause it provides them with more op- 
portunities for catching prey. Sec- 
ondly, because the crab feeds them 
directly. When the crab has grown 
too much to be comfortable in the 
old shell, it goes around in quest 
of a bigger one and when it is found 
crab and sea anemones move. An- 
other crab which does not need bor- 
rowed armor, because it has got 
complete natural armor of its own. 
walks around brandishing small liv- 
ing sea anemones in its claws. And 
a third one uses seaweed or small 
sponges and the like for camouflage. 

Still, that snail shell, while a tool 
for the crab, is something that can 
be found — or obtained in eating the 
snail — ready made. We like to see 
something that has been built. 

The wish can easily be granted. 
All that is necessary is to go out and 
look in fresh-water lakes or streams 
for a little creature that goes under 
the name of caddis w T orm. If that 
quest fails, a book on entomology 
will provide it indexed as Macro- 
nerna rebratum. 

The caddis “worm” is the larvae 
of a small flying insect which belongs 
to the order Trichoptera and that, if 
paleontologists guess right, repre- 
sents the ancestors of the butter- 

AST— 8h 



flies. The adult insect or imago does 
nothing especially noteworthy, save 
for propagating the species. But the 
larvae — well, that’s a better story. 
They live in fresh water, as has been 
indicated, and strongly feel the need 
for additional protection. They spin 
a round ease first, shaped like a slen- 
der barrel with a bottom . Head and 
some of the -legs protrude from the 
open end. After that is accom- 
plished the larva really starts work- 
ing. The silky “barrel” is covered 
on the outside with extra-organic 
material, with shells of young fresh- 
water snails, or with tiny pebbles, 
or with pieces of thin dead stalks of 
underwater plants, all neatly cut to 
the same length and put together to 
a hexagonal tube. It seems that 
the larva uses what happens to be 
around, but once a strengthening 
material is chosen the larva sticks 
to its choice. There are no “mixed” 
caddis-worm cases; it’s enther sand 
grains, or snail shells, or miniature 
lumber. 

Another insect of the same order, 
but of a different family — Hydro- 
psychidae — produces woven cairns 
of peanut-sized pebbles, to withstand 
the current of the brook. Again it is 
the larva that does the work, the 
adults are less interesting. The larva 
of a third insect — Myrmeleon jormi- 
calynx, the ant lion, this time of the 
order Neuroptera — is the inventor of 
artillery. The victims of the ant 
lion, the ants as can be guessed from 
the name, have nothing to fear 
from the adult which looks like a 
small dragon fly. But the larva digs 
a cone-shaped pit in dry sand and 
hides itself in the sand underneath, 
so that only a small part of the head 
shows at the center of the inverted 
cone. When an ant approaches the 
rim of the pit the ant lion’s head 
throws grains of sand at the victim. 



ne 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



The accuracy of the bombardment 
is uncanny, the ant loses its balance 
and tumbles down into the pit — 
and into the waiting mandibles of the 
ant lion. 

The method is reminiscent of the 
“shooting” of the Siamese archer 
fish Toxotes jaculator, which throws 
drops of water at flies and other in- 
sects resting at the water’s edge or 
on plants above the surface. The 
shooting mechanism is a kind of blow 
tube, formed by a groove between 
two ridges in the roof of the mouth 
and by the tongue. The marksman- 
ship is amazing. Toxotes can shoot 
insects on the wing and hit a target 
more than a yard away. One ob- 
server saw it shoot a small lizard — 
but that was impractical as the fish 
could not devour prey of such size. 
Another observer had his cigarette 
extinguished by such watery bullets, 
the fish apparently thought that it 
was a glowworm. 

Both the ant lion and the archer 
fish depend on gravity to deliver the 
prey. Birds have discovered a 
method to let gravity do a little 
more. Sprague de Camp mentioned 
in one of his articles — Astounding, 
November, 1939 — that “seagulls fly 
up with clams and drop them on 
rocks, thereby breaking them open,” 
and that along the New Jersey coast 
cars have been damaged that way. 
The Greek eagle has invented exactly 
the same method for coping with the 
hard carapaces of the Greek land 
tortoises and is blamed for the in- 
cidental murder of a Greek peasant 
whose skull proved to be not quite 
as hard as the shell of the tortoise. 

The European song thrush is even 
known to use special “anvils,” 
rounded stones in the woods against 
which the thrush beats wood snails 
until their shells break. 

In a book on Australian birds by 



an Australian zoologist — A. H. Chis- 
holm — I find a report of veritable 
dive bombing. A large black- 
breasted buzzard of the inland areas 
had discovered a fondness for emu 
egs. Now the emu is large and can- 
not fly; its nest is, therefore, on 
the ground. The buzzard frightened 
the emu away by flapping its wings 
at the brooding bird, then seized a 
stone and dropped it into the nest 
in a low-altitude attack, breaking the 
eggs. 

The birds of Australia seem to be 
an inventive lot all the way through. 
Of some small bug hunters it is told 
that they use dry blades of grass 
to reach into cavities under loose 
bark where their bill is not long 
enough. A parrotlike bird from 
nearby New Guinea is known to 
wrap the hard and very smooth palm 
"nuts” which are its sole food in 
coarse leaves so that they cannot slip 
away when carried around. And 
at least one of the bowerbirds even 
invented painting. 

The bowerbirds got their name 
from the bowers they build for 
strictly amorous purposes. Such a 
bower consists of two parallel walls 
of twigs put upright into the ground. 
In front of the entrance the bird 
amasses a large collection of things 
he finds interesting and with which 
he hopes to impress his lady friend. 
Glittering objects are not as much 
in demand as may be thought; the 
birds go for certain colors, blue in 
the case of the Satin Bowerbird. 
Here’s the list of objects found in 
front of one bower: 

Eight bags of wash blue, 10 
pieces of blue match boxes, 1 blue 
empty cigarette pack, 1 blue envel- 
ope, 1 piece of blue string, 34 pieces 
of blue glass, 17 blue feathers, 1 blue 
marble, 1 parking ticket (blue print 
on white cardboard) , 4 blue ehoeo- 



PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING 



117 



late wrappers, a blue invitation card 
to an ‘‘At Horae,” 8 yellowish wood 
shavings, 2 pieces of yellow onion 
peel, 8 snail shells, 1 cocoon, 6 
cicada-cases, large numbers of blue 
and yellowish-green flowers. 

It is impossible to cultivate blue 
flowers where Satin Bow’erbirds are 
around. The painter among the 
bowerbirds is just this fellow who 
shows such a marked partiality for 
blue objects. To quote from Chis- 
holm's report: 

Many times I had seen bowers .contain- 
ing blackened sticks and had imagined these 
to be charred in fires. That hasty conclu- 
sion was dispelled a few years ago. It was 
established then that the bird actually 
brings charcoal to the bower, munches it 
into a paste and, holding his head sidewise, 
paints each stick of the inside walls with 
his beak. Moreover, he carries fragments 
of soft bark to the bower and holds one of 
these in the beak while applying the mix- 
ture. We surmised at first that these scraps 
of bark were used as brushes; but it now 
seems more probable that they are by way 
of being stoppers, or corks, to prevent the 
mixture oozing from the tip of the beak 
while it is being applied to the walls with 
the sides of the beak. 

That sounds as if it were impos- 
sible to beat, but other Australian 
birds have made an even greater 
invention, less artistic, to be sure, 
but representing technological prog- 
ress in the strictest sense of the word. 
They are the mound builders. There 
are three kinds of them: the Scrub 
Turkey or Talegallus, the Megapode 
and the Mallee Fowl. None of these 
birds will ever brood, but they take 
care of their eggs just the same. 
They pile up immense mounds — one 
Megapode mound measured sixty 
feet in circumference and was fif- 
teen feet high, it had been believed 
to be a burial mound of the aborigi- 
nes — of decaying leaves and place 
their eggs inside, to be hatched by 
the heat produced by the molding 




Fig. 3. The bird that built it thought it 
was a nest — but humans had it makes a 
swell shoe if you need one! 

vegetation. The eggs are placed in 
an upright position three to six feet 
beneath the top of the mound, the 
young birds emerge without assist- 
ance from their parents. Rarely a 
small mound made by only one bird 
is found. Normally it is a com- 
munity oven shared by between 
three and twenty couples. 

The activities of the Talegallus 
birds bring us back to community life 
and it is at this point where ants 
enter the picture. That ants would 



118 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



figure in this symposium sooner or 
later was to be expected, of course. 
They are known to perform compli- 
cated tasks. 

There are the harvesting ants 
which live mainly in the moderate 
zone where pronounced seasons di- 
rect the rhythm of life. They store 
grain in subterranean chambers, 
somehow preventing the seeds from 
germinating. Then there are all the 
ants which keep “milk cows,” do- 
mesticated aphids, both above and 
below ground. There are, further- 
more, those rather complicated city- 
states with beetles for guests and 
other ants for slaves. Just to make 
the whole thing more amusing such 
communities may be infested with 
small “robber ants” which live in 
cracks too tiny for the regular ants 
to squeeze in and which live in about 
the same relationship with them as 
mice do with men. The beetle 
“guests,” incidentally, exude a habit- 
forming poisonous drug which would 
ruin the community if the grubs of 
those beetles could grow up and 
multiply their numbers. They fail 
to grow up only because the ants 
treat them with the same care as 
their own grubs — and those of the 
beetles are killed by so much care. 

Then there are the far-famed 
“parasol ants” of South America 
which cut pieces from leaves and 
carry them in long processions down 
to their subterranean gardens, as 
food for a fungus growth which, in 
turn, supplies food for the ants. 

But while slaves and “guests” and 
fungi might be regarded as “tools” 
in the broad sense of the word, I 
really wanted to tell the story of 
Oecophylla smaragdina of Ceylon. 

It is a variety of ants living high 
up in the trees, in small nests spun 
together of living leaves. They are 
ignorant of the refinements of ant 



civilizations elsewhere on earth. 
They have no granaries and no fun- 
gus gardens and probably neither 
guests nor slaves, only a few “milk 
cows” around on the leaves of which 
their nest consists. The strange 
thing is, however, that these ants 
cannot spin. But just the same all 
their nests were always found to be 
held together with neatly placed and 
properly spaced threads.. It took a 
long time until the puzzle was solved 
— and it was a simple but most sur- 
prising solution. 

The full-grown ants cannot spin, 
it is true, but their grubs can. 
Therefore, the ants “simply” use 
their own grubs as tools. One squad 
is holding two leaves together with 
the mandibles. Another squad waits 
on the other side of the leaves, hold- 
ing grubs in readiness. And as soon 
as the leaves are in position they 
squeeze the grubs which thereupon 
release a sticky thread. Swinging the 
grubs back and forth and touching 
them alternately to both leaves the 
second squad produces a neat suture 
and when the threads are dry the 
first squad lets go. Very, very sim- 
ple, indeed. 

Another intriguing story from 
the tropical zone concerns a creature 
which haunts the beaches and climbs 
the palm trees of a large number 
of South Sea islands. This time it 
is a crab, the Birgus latro of zoolo- 
gists or “robber crab” of travelers 
disinclined to use big words for small 
animals. Birgus is small, however, 
only if compared to the biologist who 
snoops around to investigate the rob- 
ber crab’s habits. It is a rather 
large fellow as crabs go, shaped like 
a lobster but generally heavier and 
built along more rugged lines. 

The diet of these crabs is mo- 
notonous, though not unpleasant; it 



PRELUDE TO ENGINEERING 



119 



consists solely of coconuts. The 
crabs form regular harvesting par- 
ties, preferably when a full moon 
hangs in the tropical sky. Some of 
the crabs then climb up on the trunk 
and go to work on ripe nuts, using 
their natural shears and pliers. The 
others wait on the beach and dis- 
assemble the nuts as they drop down. 
After having removed the thick outer 
layer of fiber they break through 
the “eyes” of the nut, those thin- 
walled circular spots near the upper 
end. Having breached the shell they 
reach inside with their smaller legs, 
shredding the nut meat and pulling 
it out for a feast. 

But those fibers are not thrown 
way. Birgus sleeps during the day, 
between the roots of palm trees or 
in small natural caves. And cocoa 
fibers are just the right material 
for a soft and comfortable bed. 
The climax of the story is that some 
observers saw them move the shells 
of coconuts. And occasionally 
abandoned shells were found, filled 
with sea water. No doubt the crabs 
have a use for that, too, but why 
and how they do it still remains to 
be discovered. 

All these facts, taken together, 
not only prove that the old organ-vs.- 
tool theory is somewhat leaky, but 
they also provide a partly scientific 
and partly philosophical headache 
of much interest; namely, the ques- 
tion of just where primitive Man can 
be fitted into the picture. 

When our own ancestors were still 
cave dwellers the birds and many 
other nest builders, including the 
multitudes of burrowing rodents, had 
progressed much further in the fine 
art of homemaking than the Crown 
of Creation. But they were and 



still are birds and rodents while the 
cave dweller became, or already was, 
a man. There is no doubt about 
the facts, if course; the question is 
where “man” begins to show where 
to put the dividing line of ingenuity. 

The temptation is great to say 
that the exact border line is marked 
by the “improved tool.” The mon- 
key who finds a nut too large or too 
hard to be cracked with the teeth 
takes any stone that is handy, while 
primitive man is supposed to have 
used and preserved a particular stone 
with an especially convenient shape. 
And a little later on he made a stone 
of convenient shape, improving the 
tool with another tool. Well, yes, 
but he must have started with taking 
any stone that could be handled. 
Should we deny the term Man before 
the stage of improved tools was 
reached? And please remember that 
a song thrush has a favorite “an- 
vil,” that the Satin Bowerbird paints 
and that woodpeckers sometimes 
first make a hole into which to put 
an acorn or a pine cone to be worked. 
These are “improved tools” of a 
sort. 

Please do not expect me to tell 
you the exact line of demarcation. 
The knowledge of fire cannot be 
used for this purpose because that 
would exclude thousands of genera- 
tions of creatures that were doubt- 
lessly men. Significantly enough, 
we were not able to draw sharp lines 
even between the various stages of 
animal engineering which could be 
expected because the whole is an 
evolutionary process and the vari- 
ous definite stages in evolutionary 
goings-on are never separated by 
sharp border lines, but only by bor- 
der territories in which many strange 
things can and do happen. 



THE END, 



ICO 



BiDDIVfR 



By Theodore Sturgeon 



Eiddiver wes a little man who got rich, got drunk, get 
into the wrong “automobile" and — because if wasn't 
an automobile, but something else-got changed . 1 

Illustrated by Kramer 



It is even truer in fact than in fic- 
tion that more important business is 
transacted in palaces of pleasure 
than is ever handled in austere 
offices. Such a deal was taking 
place in such a hangout between two 
swarthy individuals who sat in a 
semiprivate room just off the dance 
floor of the Purple Pileus, the most 
expensive drinkery in the most ex- 
clusive section of the richest city on 
three planets. 

“I thought you might like it,” said 
one of the two men. “Inside and 
out, it’s a standard model — two 
wheels, gyro-stabilized, antigrav 
plates to support it while the wheels 
drive it; conventional controls. Old 
George Carrington himself couldn’t 
tell it from the latest Carrington 
. ’ 78 .” 

& “What’s that to me?” said the 
other. “I’m satisfied with the cars 
I have.” 

“You won’t be, Eric, when you’ve 
seen this one. It’s just a little bit 
special.” 

“With a special price on it, hey?” 

“Nothing you couldn’t afford. 
You can have it for a present if 
you’ll play ball with me. I mean” — 
be added at the other’s quick glance 
— “if you’ll allow me to play ball 
with you.” 

“What’s your proposition?” 

“Something like this — I am cut 
to the quick when my own brother 



is victimized by such a creature as 
The Fang. A terrible thing. The 
finest ship in your fleet, wasn’t she? 
And pirated, burned to a cinder, 
crew and all, by that spectacular 
criminal with the melodramatic 
name. TsJc, tskl ” 

“Get to the point,” growled Eric. 
“Even if I had nothing to do with 
my time, you’d still be wasting it.” 
“I’ll get there,” said his brother 
happily. “That piracy — it was par- 
ticularly tough on the insurance 
company, wasn’t it? The cargo was 
insured for ten times the value of 
the ship, which in itself was plenty.” 
“It cost me ten times the value of 
the ship,” said Eric shortly. 

“Of course it did. I read the rec- 
ord of the investigation. A govern- 
ment man stood by a sealed meter 
and watched the stuff being pumped 
into the tanks. Only thing is, one 
of my men was watching the flow in 
your secret chamber under the load- 
ing platform. Every drop that went 
into the ship w T ound up in the tank 
it came from. Two million barrels 
of lucasium, the finest atomic fuel 
yet synthesized. The insurance 
company paid you for it; then you 
sold it to Martian Spaceways, whose 
stock you control, at a phony high 
price ‘justified’ by the shortage cre- 
ated by The Fang’s highjacking.” 
Eric’s knuckles whitened against 
the background of the blue chain- 



m 




He didn't know just who or what had designed the car, 
but he knew that he was superior. He’d improved on it— 



m 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



pagne in his glass; otherwise he gave 
no sign of having heard. 

“Before I go on,” continued his 
brother easily, “I want to point out 
that my death will result in the de- 
livery of two cans of sound film to 
the government. They tell the whole 
story. I'll run off a print of them 
for you any time you’d like to see 
them. In other words, it’ll pay you 
to see that -nothing happens to me.” 

“The air in here,” said Eric ab- 
sently, “smells of blackmail.” 

“Perish the thought!” said the 
other primly. “Have I demanded 
anything?” 

“Not yet,” said Eric. “And to tell 
you the truth, that’s what bothers 
me a little. I know the way you 
work— I should, by this time — and I 
don’t doubt that you have the film 
you mentioned. You’re the only 
man I ever heard of who was oily 
enough to get it. What else can you 
want but a payoff?” 

“I want to help you. I want to 
fight this menace shoulder to shoul- 
der with you. After all, blood is 
thicker than water. Never let it be 
said that Budd Arnik wouldn’t risk 
half the danger that threatens his 
brother.” 

“I get it. For half the ‘danger,’ 
half the profits. Right? You got a 
busy liver, son, building up all that 
gall. The answer is no!” 

Budd stretched out his legs, 
shoved his hands deep in his pockets 
and smiled at his brother. “When I 
said I could help you, I meant it. 
You’ve set yourself up a nice racket 
there, but you always did lack imagi- 
nation. You haven’t begun to tap 
the possibilities. Now, about that 
car I was trying to give you, because 
I like you so much. It’s — well, 

look!” He pointed at the glassbrick 
wall, through which could be seen 
the exquisitely landscaped driveway 



which led up to the Purple Pileus. 

A beautifully clean vehicle swept 
in at the gate, just one long, lean 
sliver of chrome and iridescent blue. 
There was bulk there, and weight, 
but it took an engineer to spot it, 
so fine were its ultra-streamlined 
curves. Its two wheels, which thrust 
themselves far ahead and behind the 
car, were individually sprung, and 
supported the great teardrop about 
six feet off the ground. Both wheels 
ran inside a tread which moved on 
shaped tracks, so that they were 
rounded in front and sharply pointed 
in the rear. From the ground up, 
then, each fore-and-aft cross section 
of the machine was a perfect stream- 
line. The car came to a whispering 
stop at the entrance, and the wheels 
retracted, setting the hull swiftly 
and gently to the ground. A lovely 
sight. 

“Carrington ’78.” said Eric. 
“What about it?” 

“Just the thing for the man about 
town, isn’t it? To look at, it is sim- 
ply the right vehicle for a man of 
your position. The one I have 
parked outside is exactly the same 
in every respect — with a slight dif- 
ference. It has every feature of a 
stock car, with just one or two 
more.” 

“Such as — ” 

“A momentum neutralizer. An 
automatic refueling screen — repels 
large bodies, sweeps in small ones 
for transmutation into air, food, 
fuel. And — an armament. Why, I 
couldn’t begin to tell you — ” 

“You don’t have to,” snapped 
Eric. “What the hell use is a car 
like that to me? Or — to my organi- 
zation?” He sipped slowly, digest- 
ing the items Budd had just reeled 
off. “What’s the idea of all that 
gadgetry on a surface car?” 

“The idea is that it isn’t a sur- 
face car, obviously. Why, that ma- 



BIDDIVER 



H3 



chine will operate practically for- 
ever without having to stop for fuel 
and supplies. It will fly. It will 
push the speed of light between here 
and anything you can see with a 
telescope. Don’t you see, or is it 
that you won’t admit it? It’s the 
perfect getaway. The perfect front. 
Piracy? Pal, you haven’t touched 
the subject. For example; suppose 
you ship a cargo of automobiles to 
Mars, and there is another regret- 
table incident like The Fang’s little 
coup. The ship just might explode 
gently enough to strew that portion 
of space with parts of the cargo. 
Thereafter, any other ship on the 
same run, sighting an automobile 
afloat in space, would pay little at- 
tention — until the automobile began 
spouting atomic shells and setting 
up a sleep-destroying field. 

“Outlets for the stuff? Well, 
there’s the colony on Neptune — re- 
member? It was a prison once, and 
they revolted just for the privilege 
of staying where they were to colo- 
nize like free men. I don't have to 
tell you about Mars and Venus and 
the asteroid colonies. We’d do all 
right.” 

“On principle,” said Eric. “I hate 
to confess it, but you really have 
something there.” He beamed. 
“Yes, you most certainly — ” The 
two swarthy heads moved closer to- 
gether over the table. 

NErTHER of the Arnik brothers 
was in a position to see the man 
who stepped out of the blue Carring- 
ton and strode purposefully into the 
Purple Pileus. Protecting his jaunti- 
ness with a hundred-dollar bill, he 
evaded the grim headwaiter’s ob- 
vious intention of locking him out, 
and marched up to the bar. 

He was a most extraordinary fig- 
ure, from the top of his mauve 
streamlined hat, through his irides- 



cent vest to his flexi-glastic shoes. 
He barely cleared five feet. His 
body was tubby but his arms ap- 
parently couldn’t understand that, 
for they were long and scrawny. 
From his brow to an inch below his 
eyes, his nose turned up; from there 
on, down. His short upper lip 
slanted sharply toward his tonsils, 
which had the effect of making his 
chinlessness positively jut. He or- 
dered lyanka, which is the Martian 
word for “equalizer,” with the air of 
a man who couldn’t possibly hold 
even one but who has just had three. 
The large bill on the bar overcame 
the barkeep’s desire to protect a 
customer against himself, and the 
man was served. He slurped from 
the goblet and looked around him. 

“So this is the top. This is the — 
wha’ you call — ul-timate.” 

“This is the Poiple Pileus,” said 
the bartender. 

“Oh, yeah . . . yeah ... I know. 
What I mean, this’s what people 
work up to. People put down num- 
bers in books, maybe, drive trans- 
ports — stuff like that, five hours a 
day, five days a week, week in, week 
out.” He ran out of breath and in- 
haled some lyanka with his air. 
“People . . . fit . . . ’scuse me . . . 
all got the idea some day they’ll be 
rich. When they get rich, they come 
to a place like this. Fft. What I 
want to know is, why? Get just as 
drunk at Casey’s Hardwater Store.” 

“Casey’s ain’t exclusive,” the bar- 
keep pointed out. 

“Take me, now,” said the fantasy 
on the paying side of the board. 
“Biddiver’s my name. Two days 
ago I’m on the assembly line-up at 
General, and somebody name of 
Phoebe Biddiver dies. Yesterday I 
got two million bucks, free and clear. 
Today I buy everything I ever 
thought I wanted and go every place 



124 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



I ever wanted to see. An’ now 
what?” 

“What?” 

"An’ now I don’t know what to do 
tomorrow.” The bartender was fas- 
cinated by the way the teardrops 
proceeded down Biddiver’s amazing 
nose. One drop would dash almost 
halfway, and then hesitate, daunted 
by the hump. Then it would be 
joined by another teardrop, and the 
two, merging, would surmount the 
obstacle and slip down to hang glit- 
tering over the disappearing lip un- 
til a sob came along to shake them 
off. “I ain’t done nothin’ to no- 
body,” complained Biddiver bro- 
kenly. “I don’t want to do nothin’ 
to nobody. W 7 hat did I do to de- 
serve this?” 

“Guys what don’t want to do 
nothin’ to nobody,” said the bar- 
tender, in a philosophic flash, “most 
generally don’t amount to nothin’.” 

“What d’you mean?” 

“Just what I say. This place, 
now, it crawls with big shots. Every 
one of them walked up to the top on 
other guy’s faces. Take that Fang 
feller now, that’s in all the papers. 
Bad egg, sure. But at the top all 
the same. Sneaks up on a tanker 
on the Earth-Venus run, swipes the 
cargo, burns the ship and the crew, 
and disappears. Then he tells three 
planets an’ the whole Belt, speak in’ 
through every ultraradio set that 
happens to be turned on, that he is 
The Fang, an’ he is the one who done 
it, an’ he’ll do it again whenever he 
feels like it. Not a direction indi- 
cator in the System can locate where 
he’s broadcasting from. See what I 
mean? He’s smart an’ he doesn’t 
give a damn about who he roughs 
up. Now look. See those two guys 
in that semiprivate over there? 
They’re the Arnik brothers. One’s 
a shipper an’ the other’s a kind of 



free-lance gorilla. They operate the 
same way as The Fang. They must 
like it or they wouldn’t keep it up.” 
He nodded sagely. “If 1 had as 
much change as you do, 1 wouldn’t 
get dowrn in the mouth about it. 
The main idea in gettin’ really rich is 
to be rich in the first place; then you 
make your money, take people out, 
lose ’em and come back with their 
bank accounts. I seen it done right 
here.” 

Biddiver shook his head weakly. 
“I don’t think I could be that kind of 
a heel.” 

“You can be. Rich people can’t 
afford to be nice about things. Only 
guys who work for a living can do 
that, an’ even then they got to 
watch themselves or they’ll get took 
over.” He peered at Biddiver, judg- 
ing expertly his state of insobriety, 
and then pointedly took away his 
goblet, rinsed it and put it aw'ay. 

Biddiver took the hint because, by 
now, he wasn’t feeling so good. He 
waved the change from his bill back 
to the bartender and weaved out. 
The barkeep pocketed the money, 
shaking his head sourly, quite un- 
aware of the fact that his little 
speech had created an interplane- 
tary menace. 

Biddiver somehow reached the 
Carrington and nudged the door 
open. He sprawled into the driver’s 
seat and touched the starting lever. 
The door locked as the machine rose 
up on its two wheels, gyroscopes 
whirring ever so faintly. On each 
side of Biddiver, an upholstered arm 
swung upward until it embraced him 
in foamy comfort He pressed the 
panel which presented itself to his 
right forefinger; the brakes released 
themselves and the machine started 
forward. Pulling gently with his 
right and then his left hand, he 
turned the car and wheeled it out of 
the gate and into the street. Plas- 



BIDDIVER 



1?5 



tered as he was, he realized that in 
this machine he had one thing that 
it would take him a long, long while 
to tire of. He pressed the accelera- 
tor under his finger, and as he passed 
the 150-k.p.li. mark the speedome- 
ter's mechanical whisper cut in — 
‘"One sixty — One sixty-eight — One 
eighty — ” He loved the sleepy surge 
"of the car, its metrical obedience. 
“Damn if she won’t up an' take off 
one of these days,” he muttered as 
he leaned over to turn on the radio. 

And when he flipped the switch 
she did take off. 

“What T don’t understand,” said 
Eric Arnik, “is why you bother to 
come to me at all. You have the 
goods on me, to a certain extent; 
you have the car and you have some 
rather sweet ideas on how to use it.” 

“Oh, that.” Budd inspected his 
stylishly scalloped fingernails. “I 
have to have a lot of research done, 
you see. T could have it taken care 
of easily enough, but news gets 
around, you know. You have all 
the facilities in your little under- 
cover laboratories. If I work along 
with you, I can get it done right and 
fast. Particularly since you realize 
how much it will be to your own in- 
terest.” 

“What sort of research?” 

“On the car, of course. You don’t 
think I built it myself, do you? It 
was like this- — I ran across a bright 
old fellow who had a few ambitious 
ideas along the lines of auto design. 
I asked him if he could build some- 
thing like this baby of mine. He 
could and he did, but he was curi- 
ous about why I wanted it and was 
fool enough to ask me some ques- 
tions. Luckily for all concerned, he 
died of natural causes.” 

“You mean you just naturally 
slipped him a ticket out?” 



“Something like that,” said Budd 
carelessly. “Terrible, the filtrable 
viruses that can get accidentally 
into a man’s air conditioning unit. 
Anyway, here I am with the car and 
no plans or blueprints of any kind. 
I’ll have to get it to someone who 
can knock it down and duplicate it. 
That’s up to your boys.” 

“I see. Is the car really on the 
up-and-up? I mean, have you 
tested it?” 

“And how.” A gleam of enthusi- 
asm crept across Budd’s deadpan 
face. “Come on — let’s get out of 
here. I’ll show you.” Eric paid the 
bill and they left. When they were 
seated in the big blue Carrington 
Budd said, “Oh — by the way. I 
can’t show you any altitude yet. 
The one thing the old boy hadn’t 
quite perfected was the Heaviside 
screen.” 

“He didn’t?” Eric’s face flushed 
with anger. “Damn it, what good is 
the car to us without that? You 
expect my technicians to build a 
Heaviside unit small enough to fit 
into this jellopy? Why, the small- 
est one ever built weighs more than 
three tons!” 

“Take it easy, pal,” soothed his 
brother. “There are a lot of new 
principles involved in this wagon. 
Your boys are pretty good — they 
ought to get a lead after looking over 
the rest of the equipment.” 

“I hope so. Damn that Heaviside 
business anyway.” 

“You ought to be glad that the 
layer’s there, chum, and that science 
knows a way to synthesize one for 
spacecraft. Did you ever hear what 
happens to a man when he’s ex- 
posed to unfiltered cosmic radia- 
tion?” 

“I heard.” Unaccountably, Eric 
Arnik shuddered. Budd started the 
car. 



126 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



Biddiver was in that enviable 
state of inebriation in which he could 
not be surprised. When he threw 
the switch to get some music and 
nothing happened, he did what any 
trained driver will do — glance far 
ahead through the windshield to see 
if the road is clear enough to allow 
him to investigate his controls for a 
few seconds. Only there wasn’t any 
road. He blinked carefully and 
looked again, and there still was no 
road. Just a blankness, with a silly 
little cloud in the middle of it. He 
suddenly realized that he was look- 
ing into the sky; but he was looking, 
not up, but ahead into it. He 
grunted surprisedly and hauled at 
the left chair arm. The cloud ahead 
disappeared and was replaced by a 
rapidly expanding relief map. It 
struck Biddiver as a little ominous; 
he pulled at the right chair arm until 
the windshield framed a horizon. 

For no reason at all he was re- 
minded of a satire, centuries old, 
which he had read, concerning a 
college boy who yielded to the temp- 
tation of his evil companions, drank 
a glass of beer and staggered out of 
the saloon with delirium tremens. 
“Been a good boy all m’life,” he re- 
flected bitterly, “because I couldn’t 
afford to be any other way. And 
now — four drinks, an’ this.” He 
wagged his head, hauled back on 
both arms at once. When he saw 
the little cloud again, he let go and 
slumped down in his seat. He was 
quite convinced he was dreaming, 
but he didn’t want to dream about a 
crack-up in a flying automobile, and 
he felt he would far rather bump the 
cloud. He went quite peacefully to 
sleep then, ignoring the new whis- 
pering voice that joined that of the 
speedometer: 

“Four hundred twelve k.p.h. — ” 

“Altitude twenty-three thousand 

fifty-” 



“Four eighty-three k.p.h. — ” 

“Altitude twenty-five thousand 
thirty-three — ” 

But he woke, completely sober, 
when the car hurtled through the 
Heaviside layer. 

Twenty minutes after the sec- 
ond Carrington ’78 pulled away from 
the Purple Pileus, it swept back 
again and two men leaped out. One 
was flushed and one was pale, but 
both were furious. They pounced 
on the frightened doorman. 

“Where’s my car? What hap- 
pened to the other Carrington?” 

“Wh — Mr. Arnik, I — ” His eyes 
bulged in terror. He had heard of 
the Arniks. “A gentleman drove off 
in it. He had only stayed a half 
hour or so. His car was exactly 
like—” 

“That’s what you think,” spat 
Budd, hurling the man down the re- 
silient plastic steps. The brothers 
went in and collared the bartender. 

That worthy was a true philoso- 
pher; that is, his morbid view of life 
extended to himself as well as to his 
fellow man. He came along un- 
complainingly when it was de- 
manded of him, which was immedi- 
ately after he had said that he had 
spoken with the man who drove the 
Carrington. They whisked him to 
Eric’s shipping offices, into an inner 
room, and down an elevator whose 
entrance was under Eric’s desk. Far 
underground he was seized by a staff 
of highly trained men who lived out 
their lives in secrecy underground 
because they dared not shovv their 
faces above. 

The bartender was given four in- 
jections in rapid succession and for 
the next six hours was subjected to 
the most thorough of grillings. He 
was powerless to tell anything but 
the truth. Highly detailed informa- 
tion about the man in the other 



BIDDIVER 



Carrington was fed, item by item, 
into a monster card-sorting machine. 
His name; height; weight; probable 
age; dress; accent; timbre of voice; 
physical peculiarities; each of these 
was gone into with incredible nicety. 

The machine dealt in probabili- 
ties; if a man of a given height and 
weight reacts in such and such a way 
to such a statement, uttered so, then 
he may have spent a specified num- 
ber of years in any one of eight pro- 
fessions. Each of these was taken 
in order, compared with other char- 
acteristics, canceled out or in. Each 
result was checked and rechecked, 
compared with every other result. 
At the end of the grilling, the Araiks 
had a complete dossier on Biddiver, 
as well as a slightly conventionalized 
full-length portrait. Looking at it, 
they doubted that their machine was 
working correctly, but it hadn’t 
failed so far. 

“Well,” said Budd, scratching his 
head, “we know what we’re after. 
Where is it?” 

“It’s probably well out of the 
way," said Eric. He turned away 
to give orders about the disposal of 
the mindless wreck that had been 
the head bartender of the Purple 
Pileus. He would be found dead 
days later, after wandering through 
the city, starving because he was in- 
capable of realizing it, freezing be- 
cause he couldn't understand that he 
needed shelter. “You see,” he went 
on, staring at the picture, “from 
what you tell me, the space-travel 
mechanisms on the car had their 
master switch where any other Car- 
rington has its radio. This guy was 
apparently one of those people who 
can’t breathe unless a radio’s pound- 
ing their ear. Drunk as he was, you 
can bet that the first thing he did 
after he started the car was to turn 
on the radio. As soon as he did that, 
he took off. He hasn’t crashed; I’d 



1 « 

have heard about it if he had. He 
hasn’t been seen flying around, 
either. He must have gone — straight 
up-” 

“And the car isn’t shielded against 
the cosmics. So — ” 

“So they probably got the rat. I 
hope.” 

Budd shook his head. “You can’t 
count on it. What that radiation 
did to him depends on factors that 
no one’s been able to chart. I hope 
it killed him. Maybe it didn't — but 
what’s the difference? That car’s as 
fast as anything in space. By this 
time it’s reached terminal velocity 
and is ’way out of reach. I'm out an 
automobile, I guess. Oh, well. I 
should kick. At least I’m where I 
know my dear brother will look out 
for me.” He smirked at Eric and 
the way he made an infinitesimal 
move toward his shoulder-holster 
and then visibly thought better of it. 

“I can just barely stand you,” 
gritted Eric after a taut moment. 
“Don’t make it any tougher for me 
by your lip.” 

Somewheke in space, a chrome 
and blue automobile raced the green 
light of Earth. Biddiver was quite 
dead now, if death is complete loss 
of personality, of human hopes and 
dreams and desires. There was an- 
other at the controls, certainly, one 
who moaned and gibbered and 
mewed at the stars spread about 
him, one who snatched and pawed at 
the sensitive, unprotesting controls 
before him. But it was not Biddiver, 
any more than the car itself was the 
ores and gases and fluids from which 
it was fabricated. The car was new, 
and even newer was the creature at 
the controls. 

After those first mad moments, he 
quieted to stare with his new, scar- 
let eyes at the car, the dials and me- 
ters that now presented themselves 



128 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



f 



in place of the conventional dash- 
board that had slid up out of sight 
when the car had reached the thou- 
sand -k.p.h. mark. He fingered the 
upholstery with an animal’s pre- 
occupied attention, touched metal 
and glass and fabric with listless 
hands. Then he looked down at 
himself, snarled, and began to strip 
the clothes from his body. He 
worked slowly, systematically, from 
his shoes upward, ignoring clasps 
and slides, depending on the invari- 
able rule that each chain has a weak- 
est link. His flesh had a greenish 
cast, and it puffed tautly everywhere 
except near the joints, which were 
all simply skin on bone. When he 
had tossed the last tatter over his 
shoulder, he put both hands to his 
head and wiped off his frowsy mane. 
The hair came quite easily off the 
puckered skull. He giggled then, 
and went to sleep for three Earth 
days. 

“Who’s The Fang?” asked Budd 
Arnik, a couple of weeks after he had 
bulldozed his way into the titular 
vice-presidency of Eric’s shipping 
firm. “I’ve seen some sweet write- 
ups about him in the tele-facsimiles. 
He’s a crazy Martian. He’s an ex- 
iled scientist from another solar sys- 
tem. He’s a refugee from a sunspot. 
Everybody has a different idea 
about him, except you. Seems 
funny, somehow,” he went on, affect- 
ing the lightly sarcastic tone which 
he knew infuriated his brother. “The 
gentleman steals a cargo which is not 
aboard a ship, destroys the vessel, 
and leaves you with your pockets 
full of money. I wouldn’t be curi- 
ous if I didn’t happen to know that 
you’ve made no big payoffs to any- 
one recently. If you’d hired the guy, 
it would have cost you plenty. If 
you didn’t, why should he scuttle a 
ship with a nonexistent, heavily in- 



sured cargo, and then announce to 
the Universe that he is The Fang 
and will be heard from again?” 

“You found out about the pay- 
off,” growled Eric. “Why bother 
asking me any questions at all? Fig- 
ure it out for yourself.” 

“I will,” promised his brother 
smoothly. “Which reminds me — I 
have an idea that’ll make us some 
money, if The Fang can be depended 
on to do a little more work for us. 
Can he?” 

Eric hesitated and then said, 
“Pretty much.” 

“Ah,” said Budd. “Well, you 
know that uranium mine on Pal- 
las?” 

“Mm.” 

“Well, there’s a lot of money tied 
up on it. That uranium, you know, 
is about forty per cent 235. U-235 
from Pallas supplies most of the 
System, since it’s so easy to refine. 
There’s still plenty of market for it, 
you know. Lucasium is more effi- 
cient, but it’s a hell of a lot more ex- 
pensive. Now — here's my idea. Just 
to see if The Fang has any kind of 
reputation as yet, we’ll have him 
threaten the colony. We’ll set a 
price — not too much; maybe they'll 
pay it — and tell ’em to set it adrift 
in space, static, right there in the 
Asteroid Belt. By the time it has 
moved more’n a couple hundred 
miles toward the Sun, it’ll intersect 
the orbits of quite a few' planetoids. 
One of our boys can be roosting 
there in a small ship to pick it up.” 
Eric sent him a glance. “Is that 
what you meant when you said you 
had imagination?” 

“Yeah. Why?” 

“I’m surprised, that’s all. It’s not 
bad. Let’s get going.” 

In a very few days they had a ship 
outfitted. It was decided that Budd 
would take her out to the Belt. As 



129 



they stood in the control room just 
before the take-off, Budd asked: 

“You’re going to get in touch with 
The Fang?” 

“I’m doing that right now,” said 
Eric. “You are The Fang.” 

“I’m what?" 

For once in his life Eric Arnik 
actually laughed. “Certainly. The 
incendiary explosion of the tankship 
was done by time bombs.” 

“But — that voice?” 

“No trouble. It was recorded, 
and transmitted from little sets set 
adrift in space. Any signal trans- 
mitted simultaneously from three 
sources widely separated makes a 
direction indicator run around in cir- 
cles.” He chuckled. “One transmit- 
ter was dropped from the ship a day 
before she blew up. Another was in 
my office. The third was in an orbit 
around Eros. They were timed to 
transmit The Fang’s message twenty 
days after the explosion, just about 
when it would be discovered. I told 
you you could have figured it out 
for yourself. All I had to do was to 
give my hypothetical criminal a 
name like “The Fang” so that the 
feature writers would pick it up and 
plaster it around. That’s what 
you’re doing now, dope. Just follow 
the course that’s in the co-ordinator 
over there. The automatic releases 
will take care of everything for you. 
You’ll drop atomic bombs in the 
path of Pallas, so that the asteroid 
will strike them just when its rota- 
tion will put the mines on the point 
of impact. The message is already 
recorded. Your course takes you 
within the gravitic field of Jupiter; 
one of the transmitters will swing 
around behind the old boy. One will 
be here, and one will be attached to 
the bombs.” 

Budd was aghast. “So that’s — 
Holy Kitt! And I was the guy who 
said you had no imagination!” He 
looked at his brother as if he had 




. . . the call that's ringing out all over the 
country these days. And you can get 
right in the swing of the big-league games 
with the big-league book, BASEBALL 
YEAR BOOK. 

It has everything you want to know . . . 
with 200 photos, complete rosters and 
schedules of all major-league teams, in- 
side dope about each club and player in 
the league. 

The sure pennant winner of this and any 
season . . . get your copy now! If your 
dealer can't supply you, fill out the coupon 
below. 

BASEBALL 
YEAR BOOK 

Street & Smith Publications, Inc. 

79 Seventh Avenue, New York, N, Y. 

Here's my quarter. Please send along 
BASEBALL YEAR BOOK. (30c in Canada.) 

NAME - 

ADDRESS 



CITY 



STATE 



ISO 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




It seemed to be an ordinary late-model car — but sev- 
eral million miles out in space, where no car could be! 



never seen him before, and then 
something of his cockiness returned 
to him. “May I ask the master 
some questions?” 

Eric looked at the chronometer. 
“Fire away. You have twelve min- 
utes.” 

“How did the signal blank out all 
others in every ultraradio set in the 
System?”' 

“I can’t tell you exactly, because 
I’m not a radio man. One of my 
boys fixed it up. The general idea is 
that every wave frequency has a cor- 
responding negating frequency — an- 
other wave that vibrates node to 



trough with the original, and cancels 
it out. My signals were transmitted 
in every frequency; they sounded 
above and below the ones that were 
canceled.” 

“How about the time lag between 
all those transmitters? They were 
an awful long way apart.” 

“A silly question, son. You know 
ultraradio. Those vibrations think 
the speed of light is a minus quan- 
tity!” 

Budd rubbed his neck. “So I’m 
The Fang. I can’t get over it. By 
the way, chum, I wouldn’t try kill- 
ing two birds with one stone on this 



BIDDIVER 



1SI 



trip. You’re liable to be the other 
bird. I’m talking to a buddy of 
mine every twelve hours, until I 
come back. If I miss a single call, 
those cans of film will get to the 
Feds.” 

“Damn it,” said Eric mildly. He 
walked to the bulkhead, pressed a 
panel. A section slid open: he lifted 
out a compact little piece of destruc- 
tion in the form of an atomic bomb. 
“I was hoping you wouldn’t think of 
anything like that,” he said. “This 
was for you. Oh, well.” 

Budd grinned. “Better luck next 
time. So long, pal. See you anon!” 

When the air-lock gates had hissed 
to a close, he threw a master switch 
set into the chronometer housing, lit 
a cigarette and sat down to read 
and look at visirecordings until he 
had something to do. The chro- 
nometer clicked softly, and the ship 
hurtled away. It was only then that 
a certain detail occurred to Budd — 
namely, that whether or not the 
miners of Pallas and their paymas- 
ters agreed to The Fang’s terms, 
they were doomed, for the eggs 
would be laid. Their planetoid 
would strike the hovering nest of 
bombs when, in all probability, they 
would be looking for some sort of 
an attacking ship. Now, what was 
the good of that? 

He reflected a moment, and then 
laughed aloud. This was all that the 
System needed to learn that The 
Fang was a force to be reckoned 
with! Budd had the bright ideas, 
but it took a brain like Eric’s to 
really stretch them out. After this, 
The Fang could dictate to the Uni- 
verse. 

“My own brother,” Budd chor- 
tled. “But, oh, Lord, what a man!” 

He had changed; he knew that. 
The tearing radiations that had 
thrust his new being into the Sys- 

AST— 9h 



tern had left him memories of puffed 
green flesh, bony joints, and a bald, 
rough skull. The transition was 
complete now. Blue-white hair cov- 
ered the obese body. It was a good 
three feet long and beautifully silky. 
It fell down on each side of his scar- 
let eyes, down from his cheeks, his 
chin. It mantled his whole frame, 
ending in a great puff at his knees. 
The erstwhile chitinous structure of 
his fingernails was now flexible, sen- 
tient flesh, so that, from the tip of 
each finger and thumb a dexterous 
tentacle about four inches long ex- 
tended. 

It was a new and glorious world 
that this creature regarded. To him, 
radiant heat was a color, and elec- 
tricity was a color, and every vibra- 
tion between them on the electro- 
magnetic spectrum was a shade. 
Thought itself was a visible, physi- 
cal thing to him. Thought strikes 
the average telepath like a hand on 
the arm of a paralyzed deaf-mute, 
but to the creature in the Carring- 
ton it was as easy to sense as the 
handshake of a friend. 

His interest in the interior of the 
car was soon exhausted, and he spent 
many days drinking in the immensi- 
ties of space. He looked with un- 
derstanding and the truest kind of 
appreciation on mighty Jupiter and 
the speckled Belt. His eyes sensed 
rather than saw Neptune and frozen 
Pluto. Then, having had his fill of 
infinity, he turned again to his small 
world and himself. 

He regarded the car and its work- 
ings not with the eye of science, but 
with that of the most superb logic. 
The ape regards three turns of rope 
around a beam as a Gordian knot. 
A lay human being regards an 
atomic power plant as a hopelessly 
involved technical jumble. Not the 
silver-silk being in the Carringtou, 
however. He crawled into the power 



134 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



compartment, and with the joy of 
a man who has just found a book he 
loved in his childhood, he followed 
leads, inspected coils and bars and 
casings. In a locker he found tools 
of every kind, spare parts of every 
description, and with them he went 
to work. 

The powerful and delicate tenta- 
cles at his fingertips worked with a 
speed and precision impossible to a 
human hand. Here he found a bus- 
bar a few millimeters too thick for 
the light load it carried; there he saw 
a mechanical task which could be 
performed electrically with less drain 
on the power source. He looked 
carefully at the wheel-driving mech- 
anism, and after an hour’s work on 
it, went forward to the control chair 
and re-calibrated the throttle indi- 
cator; for now the machine could 
not be operated safely on the ground 
unless it drew less fuel, due to its 
new efficiency. He regarded the 
antigrav apparatus with some 
amusement, for it seemed primitive 
to him. Hooking his leg around the 
wheel driveshaft, he drew r a set of 
tools equipped with spring clips to- 
ward him, shut off the unit, and re- 
built it. 

The car kept him busy for some 
days, and then there was little else 
he could do to it; and so he turned 
his brilliant eyes inward on himself. 
He was a creature without prece- 
dent. Of the human basic urges, he 
had none. He could not know hun- 
ger, for the car supplied him witfe 
food tablets as they were needed. 
Fear did not exist. Wealth, power, 
shelter — these things were impossi- 
ble conceptions, for he had been born 
with them all. 

He remembered little or nothing 
about Biddiver. He sent his metri- 
cal mind back along the past few 
days, searching for clues as to his 
origin and that of the automobile. 



Almost all of it had been blanked 
out. There was, however, a recent 
experience — a voice had spoken to 
him, and he had thought it authori- 
tative. He knew’ himself to be tal- 
ented and superior, for had he not 
improved on the work of a people 
who manifested a high degree of sci- 
entific knowledge? Then the words 
he had heard from that source must 
be the thought-image of a Power 
past even his understanding. If he 
could only remember when — and 
where — 

That voice had said, “Guys what 
don’t w T ant to do nothin’ to nobody 
most generally don’t amount to 
nothin’. Big shots — every one of 
them walked up to the top on other 
guys’ faces. The Fang — at the top 
now.” There were details about The 
Fang; the creature suddenly found it 
difficult to remember whether he had 
heard of or been The Fang. “Arnik 
. . . Arnik brothers — ” That was 
a recurring thought-pattern that 
brought wdth it a wondering dis- 
taste. There was more, but it was 
these things that were most signifi- 
cant, Why? 

He opened his eyes and stared 
through the windshield. All of it 
had something to do with the third 
planet, the green one. There was a 
message for him in that voice from 
the past. He set about the prob- 
lem as if it were put together with 
nuts and bolts. 

Arnik — big shots — these, and the 
things about them, were somehow 
unpleasant thoughts. There was 
pleasure, however, in improvement. 
Unpleasant things were made pleas- 
ant by improvement. The Arniks, 
then — 

He paused. Everything about 
him — the car, the stars and planets, 
the food he ate and the air he 
breathed, each of them had a pur- 
pose But he himself — why w'as he 



BIDDIVER 



133 



there? The speedometer was there 
because it had something to do — a 
function. Had he a function? He 
must have, he reasoned, or he would 
not be there. He regarded the green 
planet thoughtfully, running his 
pointed yellow tongue over his lips. 
Where it parted the long hair, two 
great white tusks showed. He laid 
his hands on the arms of his chair, 
and the tentacled tips curled over 
the ends, lightly touching the con- 
trols. He knew what he had to do. 

And that is how the philosophy of 
a bitter bartender became a space- 
dweller’s driving creed. 

Budd Abnik found time a little 
heavy on his hands until his ship 
approached the Belt, and then he 
spent most of his time at the for- 
ward port. He dared not touch the 
controls, for his course was timed 
and plotted and automatically 
steered, and a fraction of a degree 
one way or the other would defeat 
the whole plan. 

Power off, the little ship swung 
into the Belt and into the orbit of 
Pallas. Then a few gentle nudges 
this way and that, to brake her and 
steady her in that untenable posi- 
tion, stasis in space. The most ad- 
vanced of calculating machinery had 
been employed to check this one tiny 
dot on the astro chart. She hung 
there for twenty-two hours, await- 
ing just the right split second to drop 
her deadly load. Budd only felt the 
infinitesimal lurch because he had 
waited so long for it — that tiny 
swaying as automatic grapples let 
the bombs go, repelled them a few 
feet so they would be clear of the 
mass of the ship. Then the artificial 
gravity and momentum neutralizer 
cut in, a relay clicked, and the ship 
looped over and fled back toward 
Earth. 

Budd slipped into the pilot’s chair 



with a sigh. This leg of the trip 
would be a little more exciting. Al- 
though the automatic pilot would 
take him unerringly back to his 
starting point, the explosion on Pal- 
las would occur long before he got 
there, and space would be crawling 
with Tri-planet Patrol ships. He 
knew he could outmaneuver and 
outrun any of the ships, but he knew 
he wouldn’t have a chance against 
an ultraradio torpedo or a sleep-de- 
stroying field. Particularly the lat- 
ter; for the range of the field was 
tremendous, and the penalty of be- 
ing snared in one was agonizing 
death from lack of sleep. He had 
to rely on his detector beams to 
warn him of any approaching ship. 

He slept frequently for lack of 
anything else to do, woke for a few 
minutes, checked over his gauges, 
and dozed off again. And in one of 
these periods he dreamed. 

He dreamed that a hollow, insist- 
ent voice, just like that of The Fang 
on Eric’s recordings, was calling him 
insistently. “Arnik! Arnik! Arnik!” 
He was conscious of his own effort to 
rouse himself, and found he could 
not. “Arnik!” said the voice. “An- 
swer! What are you doing? What 
was the meaning of those bombs 
dropped in the path of Pallas?” 

And he dreamed that he was 
bound down by gentle but irresisti- 
ble forces, so that he could only 
cry out against them; but the only 
cry he could make was the truth. 
“We are bombing the mines.” 

“Why?” The voice was a glit- 
tering steel probe, picking away at 
his brain. 

“To create fear of The Fang. To 
make The Fang’s comands law.” 

Question by remorseless question 
he was forced to tell the whole story. 
And then, suddenly, he found him- 
self free to awaken. He sat bolt 
upright, streaming sweat, sputtering 



134 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



profanity, and carrying the most 
terrific headache in the memory of 
man. 

“I'm gettin’ the crawlin’ willies,” 
he muttered, and then realized that 
the detector alarm signal was shrill- 
ing. He glanced at the dial. It had 
been ringing for two hours and 
twenty-seven minutes. He shook his 
head, nearly shrieked at the pain, 
and snapped the switch. The sig- 
nal cut itself off. From another dial 
he read the bearing and distance. He 
swiveled about, unlimbered a short- 
range visiscope, and turned it on. 
Sharp and clear, the image of the 
offending vessel showed up on the 
screen. 

Only it wasn’t a vessel. It was an 
automobile — an iridescent blue Car- 
rington ’78. 

Budd Arnik grunted, looked again 
and grinned. “Well, well,” he 
chuckled. “Imagine meeting you 
here!” It w as a one-in-a-quadrillion 
chance, he thought. That ugly- 
looking lug who had accidentally 
swiped his car had probably gone 
nuts and died when he broke through 
the Layer. By some fluke the car 
had quit with a corpse at the con- 
trols and must now be caught in 
somebody’s orbit — probably old Ju- 
piter. And of all people in the Uni- 
verse, he, Budd Arnik, had to be the 
one to find it! 

He cut off the automatic pilot and 
took over, swerving toward the car. 
It was traveling in the same direc- 
tion but in a slightly different plane. 
He focused the visiscope and read 
off the range from the gauge. The 
car was nineteen kilometers ahead. 
He put on a burst of speed, overtook 
and circled the automobile. As far 
as he could see, it was totally un- 
harmed. He grinned happily, edged 
closer, and reached for the magnetic 
grapple control. But before he could 



touch it, the car suddenly faded 
away from the screen. Budd sw r ore 
and fiddled with the controls, bring- 
ing it quickly back into focus. It 
had jumped four kilometers when he 
came close. He crept in again, 
watching carefully. When the range 
closed to one kilometer, the car 
jumped again. Budd frowned. Was 
that dope still alive in there? 

He lifted his ship above the car 
and began to settle down toward it. 
And again the car jumped away. 
“What the hell,” growled Budd. “If 
he don’t like me, why don’t he turn 
tail and run?” 

He tried it again, and only then 
did he think of a repellor field. He 
hadn’t known that the car possessed 
one, but then there were probably 
half a hundred gadgets on that 
wagon that he knew nothing about.. 
Most big spacecraft carried such 
fields in case of emergency repairs 
in space, to guard the hull against 
small meteorites w'hen the ship was 
not able to navigate clear of them. 

Budd shrugged. “There’s more 
ways of killing a cat than stuffing it 
in a knee boot,” he growled. He 
took some sights, punched cards 
with the results, and fed them into 
the co-ordinator. When he had his 
position, he lined his ship up with 
the car on his course, and moved for- 
ward. The car leaped away, and 
Budd followed grimly, the car pre- 
ceding him exactly a kilometer 
ahead. The two crafts soon attained 
their terminal velocity, and Budd 
turned the controls over to the mike. 

He w r alked over to the ultraradio, 
noticing that he was an hour or so 
late for his usual communique to 
Eric. That gentleman’s face flashed 
furiously on the screen. Budd smiled 
back at it. 

“Well?” roared Eric. “What the 
hell have you got to be so happy 



— 





ADDRESS 



The perfect gift. A copy of the new Street & Smith LOVE STORY 
ANNUAL, containing the tops in modern romantic fiction. Selected by 
the editors of LOVE STORY MAGAZINE, leader in its field for twenty 
years and only national weekly for women! 

These stories are worth real money . . . there's a complete $2.50 novel, 
two complete $2.00 novels, and four top-notch novelettes. They're by her 
favorite authors, too: Edna E. Davies, world-renowned chronicler of ro- 
mance; May Christie, originator of the "In Mayfair" column known to 
thousands of newspaper readers; Dick Moreland, movie scenarist — and 
many others. 

She'll love this romantic gift — and you for giving it! (And, the chances are, 
you'll enjoy it yourself.) Imagine . . . the 
finest in scintillating, sparkling love stories 
. . . 160 large-size pages, profusely illus- 
trated. There's an attractive full-color 
cover, and the Annual is printed on 
heavy book paper. Get your copy now! 

If your dealer can't supply you, fill out 
the coupon below. . 



25 CENTS (30c IN CANADA1 



Love Story Annual 



79 Seventh Avenue, New York City 



Inclosed is a quarter (thirty 
cents in Canada). Kindly send 
me the LOVE STORY ANNUAL. 

NAME 



CITY 



STATE 



136 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



about? Why you double-crossing 
rat!” 

“Easy, pal,” soothed Budd. “I 
been busy. I’ve got a present for 
you.” 

“Take your present and ram it 
up — ” 

"Tsk, tsk ,” tsked Budd. “All this 
excitement over a little tardiness! 
Listen, goon. Remember that car 
we had swiped from us at the Purple 
Pileus?” 

“Yes, I remember and I don’t give 
a damn about it.” 

“No? Well, give a look!” Budd 
walked away from the radio, 
switched on the visiscope. “Can 
you see what I’ve got in tow?” 

“No, I can’t. Now stop your hog- 
wash and tell me what sort of mon- 
key business you're up to!” 

Budd sobered. “What are you 
talking about?” 

“Don’t play innocent,” snarled 
Eric. “What was the idea of blan- 
keting my signal?” 

“When? What signal?” 

“The F — ” Eric stopped apop- 
lectically, remembering that he was 
on the air and that the System was 
full of ears. “The signals we ar- 
ranged,” he said, as if talking to a 
four-year-old. “Remember?” 

“Yeah — ” 

“They were blanked! The one in 
my office, I — Hey! You don’t 
really mean to tell me that you actu- 
ally don’t know what happened?” 
He peered out of the screen at 
Budd’s amazed face, rubbed his ear, 
and went on with a desperate sort 
of patience. “0. K. then. My 
transmitter was blanked, and so 
were the others, apparently. In- 
stead of that, I got this!” His face 
disappeared, and a recording screen 
was shoved up against the transmit- 
ter. “Now watch!” said his voice, 
and the recorder glowed. It showed 
a typical radio show, a dancing 



chorus, a vapid female singing 
dourly. Suddenly the scene disap- 
peared and a truly terrible voice 
rasped forth. 

“I am The Fang,” it said melo- 
dramatically. “I have come again 
to warn the world. But not, as was 
expected, to warn you of myself, but 
of my masters.” 

There was a long, significant 
pause. Budd’s throat felt very dry. 

“I was ordered to destroy tbe 
mines on Pallas. I have disobeyed, 
for my masters want power they 
cannot control. I also warn my mas- 
ters that I will not rest until they 
are as I am!” With the last two 
words, the screen came alive with a 
picture. 

“God!” said Budd, his eyes bulg- 
ing. 

The screen went dead and was 
moved away. Eric’s face reap- 
peared. “There’s something for you 
to look forward to,” he said snidelv. 
“Hurry home, babe.” He signed 
off. 

“The son,” growled Budd. “He 
looks almost happy about it. Great 
sweet sidesway what a face!” He 
slumped into a fearful heap in the 
pilot’s chair. 

As Budd expected, the car’s re- 
pellors cut out when it had been 
shoved well within Earth’s gravitic 
field. He grappied it to his ship’s 
side and landed neatly on the stage 
in front of the Arnik Shipping Co. 
His first act on alighting was to re- 
lease the car and try the door. It 
opened readily. He recoiled a little 
at the heap of rags that littered the 
stained control seat, and then he 
shrugged and climbed in, kicking 
them - out — the rags, and the odd 
bones they covered. Budd Arnik 
wasn’t picky. As the ground cr^w 
disposed of the spaceship, Budd 
tested the controls. They seemed 



BIDDIVER 



137 



to be all right. He waved to the 
foreman and the car slid smoothly 
down the ramp. ' 

lie could have taken a solenoid 
car out to Eric’s place and saved 
twenty minutes, but he was too 
tickled at having got his car back. 
He swept out of the city, lulled by 
the whispering speedometer; and 
when he had the highway to him- 
self, he leaned over to the conven- 
tional radio switch and then pulled 
back on the arms. The car soared 
up effortlessly. He put it down 
again and raced to his brother’s 
place. 

Eric was waiting fretfully at the 
door. “Dammit, why didn’t you 
take the solenoid?” 

“Brother,” said Eric easily, “when 
you’ve spent as many weeks as I 
have being toted around by a ma- 
chine that did your thinking for you, 
you’ll be glad of the chance to be the 
boss for a change.” 

Eric stared over his shoulder at 
the house, shrugged nervously and 
climbed into the car. “Place gives 
me the jitters,” he complained. “Go 
ahead then — drive. I want to talk 
to you.” 

Budd wheeled the Carrington 
around in its own length and rolled 
onto the highway. Drifting along 
at a hundred and eighty, he turned 
to Eric. “What’s this about jitters? 
Something new for you, isn’t it?” 

Eric looked sheepish. “Yes. No.” 
He swore fluently. “Budd, you’re a 
phony. You’re in this up to your 
neck.” He sent a glance Budd- 
ward from the corners of his eyes. 
“And 1 don’t know that that isn’t 
the silver lining they told me about 
in school, come to think of it. If I 
get it, you’ll get it, too. Anyway, 
you’re a phony. You’re up against 
something you can’t laugh off, this 
trip.” 

“You’re talking a lot of non- 



sense,” said Budd. “You’re all shot, 
man. I’ve never heard you go on 
like this. What’s under your skin?” 

Eric began in a low voice that got 
increasingly higher and hoarser, un- 
til he wound up in a piping whisper. 
“We create, for our own ends, one 
master criminal. Said master crimi- 
nal consists in ultraradio transmit- 
ters set adrift in space and in time 
bombs. We do one little job with 
our hypothetical criminal’s aid. We 
start another one. Our make-be- 
lieve monster promptly goes on 
strike because he doesn’t like our 
greed. And you ask what’s under 
my skin!” He gasped for breath, 
then went on, in a crazed monotone, 
“And I’ve been having dreams. 
Dreaming with my ears and my eyes 
while I’m wide awake. I hear that 
. . . that thing laughing. I keep see- 
ing that face. That’s what’s going 
to happen to us, you damn fool; 
don’t you see?” 

Budd went right on grinning; then 
Eric suddenly realized that the grin 
was frozen there. Budd said 
hoarsely, “Yeah. I know. 1 heard 
things, too. Merciful heavens!” he 
burst out. “We can’t let it get us! 
Shut up about it!” 

Eric’s gaze dropped between his 
feet. He clamped them nervously, 
held it there. “If it was anything 
we could understand, we’d know 
what to do . . . but you can’t tell 
about those things. It might hit you 
one way, me another, and yet we’re 
brothers. You just can’t tell. Any- 
thing might happen — ” Eric, due 
to his morbid attention to his feet, 
and to the artificial gravity in the 
car, did not notice Budd’s turning on 
the radio, or the swift leap of the 
machine off the road. “Who can tell 
what it did to that ugly Biddiver 
fellow 7 ? How can we know' what he 
is now? You can’t predict anything, 
you can’t even guess — ” 



XS8 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“What are you talking about?” 
snapped Budd. 

“Biddiver — the guy that swiped 
your fancy car by mistake. Bid- 
diver — The Fang.” 

Budd’s face turned a sick gray. 
“Biddiver is — The Fang?” 

“Certainly. That was easy enough 
to find out. He’s altered — God, yes; 
but it's him, all right. Didn’t I tell 
you? I guess I forgot. I’m shot to 
hell.” He shook his head, and sweat 
flung from his forehead. “The card- 
selector — you know, the one we used 
on that barkeep. It gave us a por- 
trait and. a description. With The 
Fang I reversed the process. He’s 
slightly changed, but underneath all 
that . . . that fur — he has the same 
bone structure. It clicks ... it 
couldn’t be anyone else. Somewhere 
he’s cruising around in that damned 
automobile. Sooner or later, he’ll 
get us.” 

“Not ‘that’ damned automobile,” 
said Budd, and laughed hysterically. 
“ ‘Tim damned automobile. I tried 
to tell you about it when I was out 
there in space. I thought I picked it 
up and brought it back. I see now — 
it brought me.” 

Eric raised his head, stared out of 
the side window, and screamed. The 
Carrington was a thousand kilome- 
ters up and going higher. Budd 
forced the control arms downward 
violently; the nose of the car tipped 
up instead. He sat like a statue, 
blood pouring from where he had 
bitten through his lip. Eric dove for 
his gun, snatched it out, put it to his 
temple. 

A white-furred arm reached al- 
most casually from behind them, 
lifted the gun out of Eric’s hand. 
“Don’t do that,” said The Fang 
gently. “Not at this stage. I want 



you changed. I want you made like 
me. That,” he added, “is what I 
am for.” 

They turned slowly and faced the 
creature. “Do not be frightened,” 
droned The Fang. He was regal, 
magnificent, as he stood there, in 
front of the door to the power com- 
partment where he had been hiding. 
His luminous eyes were separately 
articulated, and one fixed on each of 
the men, held them. His long face 
hair was swept away on each side 
from his chrome-yellow mouth, bar- 
ing the great tusks. 

He held them there while the ma- 
chine swept up and outward, the 
whine of air outside growing fainter 
as the air thinned. Stratosphere — 
ionosphere — and the Heaviside. The 
Fang watched with puzzlement 
growing in his eyes as Eric shrieked 
and died, as Budd groveled in pain 
and then hung limply on the back of 
his seat. The Fang picked him up 
carefully and laid him on the deck. 
Something was happening to the 
man. He tried to scream, and his 
legs kicked out. He tried to strike 
out with an arm, and his head 
whipped back against the floor. His 
eyes widened, the flesh between them 
thinning, the eyeballs beginning to 
fuse. He died, then, for no human 
being can live when his medial di- 
vision starts to go to pieces. Hu- 
mans are built to operate with two 
sets of limbs, two eyes, two ears, two 
nostrils — the radiations found that 
the path of least resistance in Budd 
Arnik was to do away with that 
medial line, and it couldn’t work. 

So The Fang was left, keening 
over the twisted bodies, mourning 
that he had not done it the right 
way, horrified because he had been 
mistaken — for he only wanted to 
help. Perhaps one day he will find 
his function. 



THE END. 



139 




BRASS TACKS 



Reader reactions aren’t accurate enough 

in themselves to make such a job of 

statistical analysis worth while. But 

I’d like a 1941 Lab for the year. 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

Acknowledge receipt of yours of the 18th 
inst., with bombshell inclosed — bombshell 
being the unexpected Nova “Universe.” 
What a story! And what an issue! Man 
O man! 

My ratings: 

1. “Universe” — Heinlein — A-j- 

2. “Solution Unsatisfactory” — McDonald 
—A 

3. 'The Stolen Dormouse” — de Camp — A 

4. “Liar!” — Asimov — A — 

5. “Fish Story” — Phillips and Roberts — B 

6. “Jay Score” — Russell — B 

7. “Subcruiser” — Walton — B 

Only after an agonized soul search did I 
make up my mind to put de Camp’s serial 
in third place — it’s wonderful. But the two 
novelettes are even better. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 
are practically tied. 

Rogers again proves his merit; Schnee- 
man excels except for his too-blurry char- 
coal work for “Fish Story”; and Kramer, 
amazingly, is just as good. 

I have decided to standardize my rating 
system to compare stories . of different 
months, instead of merely rating the con- 
tents of each issue against itself. Stories 
marked “A” range from Nova level down 



a ways; those marked “B” are almost as 
good; C’s don’t belong in Astounding, and 
D’s don’t belong in any science-fiction 
magazine. Those last are rare. 

Far more important than my personal 
statistics are your averaging methods in 
the Analytical Lab, and I have an idea 
for them, too. I realize that if my way is 
any good it’s probably the way you’re do- 
ing it now, but, unbashed, I proceed with 
the explanation. 

Suppose an issue contains four complete 
stories, one serial and one article. As I 
understand your present system, anyone 
rating all of them has the one at the top 
of his list counted 1 and the one at the 
bottom counted 6. Anyone not rating serial 
and article has his marks spaced from 1 
to 4. That’s the problem. 

Now, if someone ties a short and a serial 
for first place, the next one in his list is in 
the No. 3 spot; therefore each of those he 
tied has to count 1.5, otherwise his opinion 
is being given more weight than that of 
other readers who might put one of the 
stories lower. That’s obvious. 

Your main problem works the same way, 
and the objection to your system is the 
same as the objection to counting both the 
tied yarns as 1: one reader’s opinion affects 
the final result more than another’s. Why 
don’t you solve it in the same way? In 
the example I gave, a Brass Tacker who 
saves the parts of his serials has five stories 



140 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



down. Count his selection for first 1, and 
his last-placer 6. His second-placer would 
then be counted 2.25; third, 3.5; fourth, 
4.75. If someone leaves out the article, too 
his stories count 1, 2.67, 4.33, and 6. 

Then, if D is the difference between the 
value assigned to one story and that as- 
signed to the next, in one reader’s rating; 
t, is the total number of contributions be- 
ing considered; and n is the number in- 
cluded by the reader in question, you have: 
t-1 

D = . 

n-1 

After performing this formidable calcula- 
tion, find the Analytical Lab average for 
each story independently, in the way you 
described in the December number. 

Ye gods, what arithmetic that involves! 
But it seems the only way to arrive at a 
fair result. 

While we’re on the subject, are you ambi- 
tious enough to compile an Analytical Lab 
review of 1941? You could mention it in 
about the November issue, and should get 
sufficient response. I don’t remember what 
Brass Tacker suggested it, but I’m in fa- 
vor of the idea. 

Leaving the subject of statistics, whose 
very contemplation renders me brain-weary, 
1 turn to the Heinlein future history. No, 
I don’t either. This is far too long already 
and I still have a lot more to say. — 
Chandler Davis, 309 Lake Avenue, New- 
ton Highlands, Massachusetts. 



Many did like “Magic City” a lot. The 
point is not that the story was disliked; 
readers seem to like other types more. 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

The reader response to Nelson Bond’s 
“Magic City” came as a distinct shock 
to me. I found it one of the finest in a 
year of fine stories. My own copy of 
Astounding is dog-eared with lending, since 
I found that particular yarn too good not 
to share. 

There is power in that story, based as it 
is on the universal striving of man to un- 
derstand and conquer disease and death. 
And there is quiet, satisfying humor in 
the half-understood names of places and 
things; the innocent false association of 
ideas. 

It is interesting to note that in develop- 
ing many of his words and place-names, 
Bond has followed the laws of philology. 



His future-time words bear the same rela- 
tion to modern English that, for instance, 
modern French words bear to classical 
Latin. 

The half-dozen borrowers of my Astound- 
ing were all people unfamiliar with the 
magazine, but fond of the science-fiction of 
Verne, Wells and Huxley. In each ease, I 
received thanks for an introduction to your 
book, and particular praise of the Bond 
story. One reader bought three more copies 
to send to friends. 

Well, that’s all. I’m sorry your cor- 
respondents didn’t like “Magic City,” and 
I hope you hear from more like me who 
did. — William Bradner, Jr., 213 Welling- 
ton Rd., Jenkintown, Penna. 



New fan club. 

Dear Editor Campbell: 

Here is an important announcement to 
Astounding fans in northern California! 
The Golden Gate Futurians are looking for 
new members, meaning YOU, the reader. 
Been wanting to catch up on back Astound- 
ings? Here’s your chance to delve into the 
club’s library of over one hundred fifty 
magazines and books, many of which are 
rare back issues. 

The Golden Gate Futurians meet every 
second and fourth Saturday of the month 
and new members are cordially invited to 
meet and mix with the present twenty. The 
place is 831 Central Avenue; the time is 
7:30 in the evening. 

Besides the library and interesting dis- 
cussions, there are neat membership cards, 
stickers beautiful, a club publication, origi- 
nal illustrations, auctions, debates, question- 
naires, programs, refreshments, and so on. 
Meet the gang — talk shop. All of the guys 
and gals have a marv’lously scrumptious 
time. 

Many are the authors, artists, fan edi- 
tors, leading fans, glamour gals of fandom, 
and interested science and fantasy-fiction 
fans. Wei i'd ones, too. 

We have dances, picnics, parties, socials, 
visits, and such, of all descriptions lined up. 
Come on; get in the fun. A group of us are 
going to the 1941 Denvention — the next 
Stfvention will probably be held here in 
Oakland and Frisco! 

Write to my address for information, or 
phone ANdover 2559. — Joe J. Fortier, Di- 
rector G. G. Futurians, 1836 39th Avenue, 
Oakland, California. 



BRASS TACKS 



141 



MacDonald, a first-rate scientist is also 
a professional politician. His opinions 
are scientifically accurate. He has per- 
formed the actual experiment of doing 
some actual administrating instead of 
simply arguing about it. Your sug- 
gested solution has one major hole. 
Readers can point out others. How do 
you plan to keep peace until that re- 
education is completed? 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

I have always been an exponent of fu- 
ture sociology yams in Astounding as well 
as those efforts for a future history along 
logical lines. Thus the chart in the May 
issue showing how the chronology runs of 
Heinlein’s stories was certainly welcomed 
by me. I suggest that the gaps in the era 
covered so far be filled as soon as possible, 
not only by the yarns suggested in paren- 
theses but by many others. After that how 
about a compilation in book form of the 
history? I’m pretty certain that with the 
right advertising it would really sell. 

Now for the challenge to solve the prob- 
lem of “Solution Unsatisfactory.” Mr. Mc- 
Donald may not like my answer, and I 
welcome a heated discussion with him in 
Brass Tacks. Let me first set forth the 
basis for my solution. Mr. McDonald 
thinks little of participation by the scien- 
tist or technician in the social field. We see 
from “Sixth Column” that he has the chief 
scent ist make silly suggestions continually, 
get a dictator complex, and go crazy. He 
praises the “play by ear” method of the 
politician as superior to any other practical 
way of handling administration. I disagree 
with him here quite a bit. It seems to me 
that the true scientist has a set of social 
values greatly superior to that of the aver- 
age politician and that he has the welfare 
of his nation’s people as well as that of the 
human race in general in mind far more 
than any other group. A scientific demo- 
cratic administration would not have let the 
secret of the radioactive dust be turned 
over to any other nation, no matter what 
her predicament or its sympathy for her. 
It would have worked industriously on per- 
fecting air conditioning apparatus designed 
to eliminate the dust from buildings and 
would see to it that they were installed 
throughout the nation. It would maintain 
a solid air defense over the whole con- 
tinent that would take care of any foreign 
air armadas. The government would su- 
pervise all work with radioactive elements. 
Also it is faulty to say that no practical 
defense would ever be found for this or any 



other weapon. There may be found some- 
thing that will stop radioactivity quickly. 
Maybe McDonald’s magneto-gravitational 
field might help. But where there’s a will 
there’s a way! 

Now I know that what I have written 
already is quite full of holes. Let’s do a 
bit of plugging. It seems strange, but I 
have heard of or read a few science-fiction 
stories that don’t take it for granted that a 
scarcity medium of exchange is in use and 
don’t talk of spaceships and atomic control 
in terms of dollars and cents. Is an economy 
of abundance so fantastic that the authors 
pass it by? By abundance I mean goods 
and services in such an abundance that 
they no longer can be distributed by their 
relative scarcity. But American machine 
technology has almost brought about that 
condition here in North America. There's 
your basis for depressions and unemploy- 
ment. That’s why they kill the pigs and 
let the oranges rot. An administration of 
an economy of abundance can hardly be 
effected by our present governmental set- 
up, designed for scarcity. The former can 
insure far greater civil liberties, can elimi- 
nate poverty, crime, and unemployment, 
can cut down the duties of administrators 
to establishing details of national policy as 
regards foreign nations and to checking up 
on the efficiency of the productive and 
servicing equipment, personnel, and promo- 
tion and demotion according to a huge 
merit system-civil service set-up. Education 
on a psychological and semantic basis can 
adjust America to this new environment. 
Intellectual evaluation by one’s fellows 
along with position in either industry or 
service can provide incentive for great striv- 
ing. Purchasing power would be plentiful 
and equal on an energy basis for the same 
reason that anyone can have all the air he 
wants today. You may recognize this as 
Technocracy already, Mr. Campbell, and 
that assumption is quite correct. The or- 
ganization behind this movement has 
plotted to blueprint detail a peaceful pro- 
gression into true scientific democracy. A 
technate could instill such a set of social 
values into its people that no one of them 
would want to try to gain autocratic power 
through the use of such a super weapon. 
The administrative scientists in control 
would have absolutely no desire to cover 
the world with death for any purpose. 
Abundance breeds manners as no other 
teacher. Thus scientific control with the 
welfare of the people foremost and a seman- 
tically educated populace that has been 
taught to work for a future of freedom and 



142 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



abundance will be able to control such a 
weapon and defend itself from attack by it. 
Incidentally this continent can be easily 
made a self-sufficient economic unit with 
synthetics for rubber, tin, and manganese 
if necessary and thus a final blackout for 
Europe or Asia would not damage us too. 

We all like to read science-fiction. How 
about living its most pleasant speculations? 
— Franklyn Brady, 140 So. Maple Drive, 
Beverly Hills, California. 



“Fish Story” got a curiously mixed re- 
ception. Some liked the “tall story” 
variation — some seem to object strenu- 
ously. 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

Perhaps you’d be interested in the femi- 
nine reaction to your essentially masculine 
magazine. My favorites are the “cuties” 
and the “quaints,” the sociological and psy- 
chological stories, all the serials, in fact, 
everything but the monthly “stinko” (why 
must there be a particularly bad one every 
issue?) and that story that the boys tell 
over and over about the spaceship that 
needs fixing in a hurry or everyone aboard 
will die. 

This last issue was excellent. ‘‘Universe” 
was Hein lei n at his best; “Stolen Dormouse” 
was next with de Camp at not quite his 
best; then “Solution Unsatisfactory,” leav- 
ing me slightly dizzy, and next “Liar!” and 
"Jay Score.” The monthly stinko was 
“Fish Story” and the gotta-fix-the-space- 
ship story was told again and labeled “Sub- 
cruiser.” I missed the article this issue. 
Please don’t forget again. 

Without hunting through the old maga- 
zines to check. I think my favorite story 
has been “And Then There Was One — 
And stories I liked and remember are 
Bond’s story about the Venusian bunny and 
his pet Ampie, and that Roman candle 
story, “Masquerade.” All the serials have 
been “best” except the Triton story. The 
second half was poor. But “Sian”! Ditto 
on all the superlatives that have been used 
by editor and readers to describe it and a 
few more besides. 

The inside illustrations are usually pretty 
bad, but the covers are good. Favorites are 
the Triton cover and the one for “Magic 
City.” Oh, yes, and that one with the 
Disciple of “Sixth Column” on it. Among 
the inside pictures that have been good are 
the ones for “Stolen Dormouse” and for 



“Butyl and the Breather.” The latter was 
so good that I could almost smell that 
stink. 

You put out a good magazine, Mr. Camp- 
bell, a very good magazine, But, please, if 
there must be a bad story in every issue, 
please let it smell only slightly. Because 
that otherwise good February issue had to 
be buried in the backyard. It contained 
“Trouble on Tantalus”!!!! — Martha Benson, 
540 East 102nd, Seattle, Wash. 



Schneeman’s in the army now, sorry to 

say. He’s doing air corps photography 

at Lowry Field, Denver. 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

After many hours of thought, I have 
finally decided to write a letter to you in 
compliment of your marvelous mag. You 
have achieved a new high in stf by the 
printing of such stories as “Sixth Column,” 
“Sian,” “Galactic Patrol,” “Cosmic Engi- 
neers,” et cetera. This it is that has de- 
cided me to put Astounding at the head of 
my list of stf publications. I think any 
fan in his right mind will follow suit. 

Another thing that has rated you so high 
is your illustrations. Where did you ever 
get that Rogers? You really caught some- 
thing when" you got hold of him. Schnee- 
man is a wizard, too. Those pictures of 
his put me into fits of rhapsodical madness. 
I rush about the house showing them to 
everybody in sight. 

Last hut not least comes the variety of 
stories that you manage to get. You have 
a pure science story and then a sociological 
legend. I am sure that this has a lot to do 
with your top position. 

Here are my ratings for the May 
Astounding: 

1. “Universe.” I rate this first because 
of the way Heinlein told it. In my opinion 
this is the best of his yet. 

2. “Stolen Dormouse.” This is the most 
completely dippy, dopey, dumb, crazy, 
lunatic serial or story I have ever read. 
Written in de Camp’s illimitable style it 
makes swell reading. 

3. “Solution Unsatisfactory.” Because 
of its grim reality. 

4. “Liar” and “Jay Score.” Because of 
their human interest. 

5. “Fish Story” and “Subcruiser.” I 
could not bring myself to put one of these 
last. 

COVER — Swell. — David G. Miller, 909 
West Duval, Lake City, Fla. 



BRASS TACKS 



143 



Astounding books are being considered, 

but no decision is possible yet. 

Dear Sirs: 

This is another of those first letters of 
which one sees so many. Although I have 
read Astounding for more than two years 
off and on, I recently woke up to find that 
it was the best in the science-fiction field. 
Now I buy it every month. 

Now for the May issue of your maga- 
zine. In my opinion, the stories rate as 
below: 

1. “Solution Unsatisfactory” 

2. “Universe” 

3. “Jay Score” 

4. “The Stolen Dormouse” 

5. “Subcruiser” 

6. “Fish Story” 

7. “Liar!" 

“Solution Unsatisfactory” and “Universe” 
are both excellent stories from excellent au- 
thors. “Universe” left itself wide open for a 
sequel, which I think would be very much 
in order. “The Stolen Dormouse” did not 
live up to the expectations I had. The first 
installment gave a basis for a story which 
I think could have been played up more. 
I still don’t know what subspace is accord- 
ing to Mr. Walton, nor did I get a very 
good explanation as to how the ship’s ma- 
chines operated and what their purpose 
was. Those are the kind of things that I 
like explained in a story. “Liar!” could have 
been left out entirely without hurting the 
magazine any. 

There is only one other thing that I have 
on my mind right now. That is, would it 
be possible to have “Sian,” “Gray Lens- 
man,” or “Final Blackout” printed in book 
form, or would it be impossible to have any 
two of them combined? I would really like 
to have all three of them printed, but I 
realize that would be too much for one 
book. Even being put into one of those 
25c pocket edition books would be all right. 
How about it, huh? — Bill Donnell, 15 
Fourteenth Avenue, San Francisco, Cali- 
fornia. 



In that case telepathy would be no good 
at all. 

Dear Mr. Campbell: 

I have just belatedly read your “Inter- 
preters May Still Be Needed” in the June 



Astounding, and. while I am compelled to 
concede vour main contention that the 
use of analogy by peoples of radically dif- 
ferent environment would probably require 
elaborate explanations, still I suggest that 
such explanations could be made in a series 
of mental pictures quite divorced from 
terminology. 

Thus, your legendary hero Ubgloo would 
have to be pictured in all his joy as be 
rushed to remeet his fifteen wives; to be 
followed by a picture of the telepathic in- 
vited guest himself imitating the joy of 
Ubgloo as he pictured himself “accepting 
the invitation to the reception, et cetera" — 
but the end-product would be entirely clear 
to anyone at all capable of imagination— 
or “image-making” in accordance w ith men- 
tal patterns provided telepathic-ally. 

The point impressed itself on me. because 
all my many personal experiments with 
telepathy have led me to the assured con- 
viction that ONLY mental images — never 
(by other than pure chance) WORDS — are 
conveyed from mind to mind w'ithout the 
use of physical, or, at least, what we term 
“normal” physical means. 

It is true that abstract ideas can be so 
conveyed, but they will always be repro- 
duced — at least in my ease — in my ow-n 
conditioned word-patterns, never in those 
of the “sender.” 

Is it really natural for us to think in 
words, or is that something we have very 
painstakingly learned to do in order to 
facilitate the exchange of ideas with our fel- 
low's? Perhaps we think only in pictures, 
and our “education” consists in learning 
how to turn those pictures into arbitrary 
word symbols? In other words, perhaps 
the true “thinker” simply REFLECTS— as 
a mental mirror — and then has to convert 
what he “sees” into arbitrary symbols. 

It is so natural for us to think in words, 
that w-e tend alw-ays to express ideas re- 
ceived telepathically in the same medium, 
but in our own habitual word-forms, so that 
we tend to overlook the possibility that no 
words at all, but merely sense impressions, 
were implied in the original “message.” 

The whole subject is intensely interesting, 
and I am almost sure that the telepathic 
“power” CAN be developed and greatly in- 
creased by experimental verification. The 
subject has not yet received a hundredth 
part of the “scientific” attention it deserves. 
— Charles Henry Mackintosh, P. O. Box 
744, Daytona Beach, Florida. 



BOOH REVIEW 



How Came Civilization? By 
Lord Raglan; London. Methuen & 
Co., Ltd., 1939, 191 pp., 6 shillings. 

Lord Raglan, author of this and 
other books on anthropology, is said 
to be a retired empire-builder. To 
judge from his books, he is a hard- 
boiled materialist and logician whose 
peppery personality sometimes 
causes him to make categorical, dog- 
matic assertions that such-and-such 
is so, when the evidence indicates 
merely a fair probability. 

Now and then, it seems, he be- 
comes exasperated with some widely- 
held opinion which he considers 
illogical, sentimental, or mystical. 
He sharpens up his snickersnee and 
goes after that school of thought 
with horse, foot, and artillery. In 
“The Hero” he set out to demolish 
the idea that culture-heroes like 
Odysseus, King Arthur, or Cuchu- 
lainn had a historical basis, and did 
a fearful job of demolition. Now he 
has gone after those who believe in 
the independent invention, in dif- 
ferent cultures, of the components of 
civilization. 

The book thus advances the ex- 
treme diffusionist point of view. This 
leads to some remarkable conclu- 
sions. He attacks the idea held by 
many of us, of the industrious savage 
struggling toward civilization, in- 
venting here and there like the rest 
of us only more slowly. He says: 
“We are often told that the Bonga- 
bonga have discovered the art of 
smelting iron, or that the Wagga- 
wagga have invented an ingenious 
fish trap, but nobody claims to have 
seen them doing it,” whereas actually 
“ — savages — of whom we know any- 
thing — are not known ever to have 
invented or discovered anything.” 
.(Linton, in. “The Study of Man,” 



cites one definite instance to the con- 
trary, of a Polynesian who invented 
a detachable outrigger about 1900.) 

The fact is, continues Lord Rag- 
lan, that most of our “primitives” 
have been in a state of cultural de- 
cline since long before the coming 
of the whites. He cites a formidable 
list of cases, such as the building of 
the great structures of Babylon, 
Uxmal, Zimbabwe, Java, Indo- 
China, Ceylon, et cetera, whose de- 
scendants can build nothing but 
huts. The Polynesians during their 
drift across the Pacific lost the arts 
of textiles, pottery, and. metal-work- 
ing, and when the whites came were 
abandoning the bow and arrow and 
their wonderful system of oceanic 
navigation. The Easter Islanders 
lost the arts of carving and trans- 
porting stone monuments, and pic- 
ture-writing. In Captain Cook’s 
time they fished from canoes; later 
they forgot how to make these, and 
fished by swimming! 

His inference is: “We have no 

more reason to suppose that a man 
has a natural tendency to degenerate 
into an ape than that an ape has a 
natural tendency to degenerate into 
a lower animal. Nor have we any 
reason to suppose that all men were 
once civilized, or even half-civilized. 
What the facts suggest is that the 
natural state of man is a state of 
low savagery, and that toward that 
state he always tends to revert when- 
ever he is not checked, or forced in 
the opposite direction, by that un- 
explained, but highly artificial, local- 
ized, and spasmodic process which 
we know as the progress of civiliza- 
tion.” 

Raglan attacks the ideas that the 
similarity of the human mind causes 
men “naturally” to produce the same 



145 



answer to the same problem, or that 
similar geographical environments 
produce similar effects on people who 
live there, or that a barbarian in- 
vasion acts as a tonic for a declining 
civilization. He cites instances 
where these things simply have not 
worked that way. 

He mentions the Lee-Enfield rifles 
made by the Pathans of northwest 
India, saying that if it were not defi- 
nitely known that the Pathans got 
their models from Europe, the anti- 
diffusion ists could make just as good 
a claim for independent invention as 
they do for such things as the bow, 
whose history does not happen to be 
known. 

He traces what is known of the 
history of the bow, domestication of 
animals, the plow, pottery, the out- 
rigger canoe, the cast-net, the kite, 
and mummification. Most of these, 
like the sail, the loom, the brick, 
wheat-growing, and metal-working 
seem to have originated in southwest 
Asia or northeast Africa, in a belt 
running from Egypt to India. 

In this belt there was probably 
once a great wave of invention, com- 
parable to the European wave that 
started around 1500. Who the in- 
ventors were, or how they overcame 
the inhibitions and taboos that make 
invention virtually impossible for 
savages, nobody know r s. Raglan’s 
guess is that they were priests, and 
the inventions were originally sym- 
bolic; used for ritual before they were 
found to have practical value as well. 

Raglan does not drag in a Moovian 
or Atlantean theory. He thinks the 
Mexican and Peruvian civilizations 
were brought from China and India 
by Polynesians. 

Amateur and professional students 
of the Cause and Cure of Civilization 
will find this a stimulating book full 
of surprising ideas. It gives those 
who wish to an opportunity to do a 
little worth-while “Buying British.” 
L. S. de Camp. 




CRIME FROM AN ISLAND 



• These criminals were led by a 
genius. And on an island in the Gulf 
Stream, they perfected equipment that 
could actually bring a powerful nation 
to Its knees! 

( Here's where all Doc Savage's in- 
tensive scientific training was needed 

• • • and he and his trusty aids found 
it all they could do to cope with the 
forces that threatened to change the 
history of the world. Read the thrill- 
packed novel, MYSTERY ISLAND, i« 
the August 

DOC SAVAGE 



10c A CORY 



AT ALL NEWSSTANDS 



m 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



The Lungfish and the Unicorn, 
by Wiley Ley. New York: Modem 
Age Books, 1941, 305 pp.; $2.75. 

This fascinating work, subtitled 
“An Excursion into Romantic Zo- 
ology,’’ is a “must” for Astounding 
readers — and for Astounding writers 
as well. 

By “romantic zoology” the author 
refers — in the words of the title of 
the introduction — to the border lines 
of zoology, where the science merges 
into paleontology, paleography, 
mythology, folklore, the history of 
science, and simply into we-don’t- 
k now -yet. 

Thus he deals with the curious 
ideas that were current in zoology 
when that science was not really a 
science but just becoming one. He 
tells about animals that are not and 
never were; about ani m als that 
ought to be extinct but are not; 
about animals that ought to exist 
but by tragic mischance have just 
become extinct; and most intriguing 
of all, about an animal that did be- 
come extinct but was later revived, 
and is now' much alive and bellow- 
ing! He describes animals that 
everybody believed in but wdiich 
turned out to be myths, and about 
animals that everybody thought 
were myths and turned out to be 
real, and about animals that may 
be either real or myths. 

One chapter has a title that really 
ought to be used for the name of a 
fantasy story: The Dragon of the 
Ishtar Gate. The beast in question 
is Nebuchadrezzar’s sirrusli. I shall 
be surprised and a little disappointed 
if the sirrush does not soon begin 
popping up in the stories. Readers 
will also learn about the tatzelwurm 
and the gierfugl. Regarding the last, 
1 am personally very glad to have 
read the book because I recently al- 
most made an ass of myself by call- 
ing an early writer a liar for speak- 



ing of pengiuns in Labrador. He 
was right, it seems. 

Here is the story of Gondwana- 
land and Lemuria. The latter is not 
a Platonic figment. It is — or rather 
was — a relic of the former, and was 
what Madagascar used to be when it 
stretched clear to India. That is 
not to say that Lemuria is a plausible 
site for vanished human civilization: 
it shrank down to Madagascar some 
time back, historically speaking. It 
is named for the lemurs that live in 
Madagascar today, and when it was 
Lemuria our own ancestors were 
pretty near the lemur stage of de- 
velopment. 

“The Lung-fish and the Unicorn” 
is a splendid piece of work, clearly 
and forcefully written. It has been 
selected by the Scientific Book Club 
as its book for May, 1941. 

L. S. de Camp. 

The Books of Charles Fort, 
with an introduction by Tiffany 
Thayer. Published for the Fortean 
Society by Henrv Holt & Co., New 
York, 1941; $4.00. 

Charles Fort spent a lifetime col- 
lecting indigestible and unusable 
facts. They were facts that could 
not be fitted into any known pat- 
tern, facts that didn’t make coherent 
sense, facts that, seemingly, belonged 
in a pattern completely new and no 
part of present-day knowledge. Op- 
presed by a need to break down the 
average man’s film belief that he — 
or at least the professional scien- 
tists — knew everything, Fort col- 
lected also a noble mass of data re- 
lating to instances where scientists 
had slipped. His books consist then 
of three essential elements; a col- 
lected and semisorted mass of facts 
that don’t fit modem patterns of 
knowledge — not physics, not chemis- 
try, not geology, not astronomy, 
they simply don’t fit. Second, a col- 



BOOK REVIEW 



147 



lection of errors and slips made by 
scientists through the last century or 
so, to prove that there are things 
beyond our knowledge, and that just 
because a hidebound and overcon- 
servative scientist says “ Tain't so!” 
doesn’t mean that it can’t be true. 
The third division of material might 
be called Fort’s effort to find some 
sort of pattern in the material, a 
vague and rather cloudy effort which 
1, personally, feel should be ignored. 
Fort, like any other man faced with 
that enormous collection of indigesti- 
ble nonsense-fact was driven to seek 
a pattern of some sort. From the 
appearance of things, he could not 
find the clue facts, or the clue facts 
haven’t been observed yet, so his 
suggested pattern doesn’t make 
satisfactory sense. 

It was partly dictated by the 
necessity to put over the idea — 
which most laymen are rather highly 
reluctant to accept — that science 
doesn’t know it all. Generally, the 
attitude of the layman has been 
taken from that of the scientist 
about twenty years earlier — at the 
time when the average adult of that 
particular period was being edu- 
cated. At the time of Fort’s own 
education, science was convinced of 
its o>vn all-knowingness, and Fort 
carried that background into his 
works. That was the time — before 
the discovery of radium, the elec- 
tronics sciences, radio, and the com- 
plete breakdown of classical me- 
chanics — when physicists were say- 
ing that the next generation of 
scientists would have to devote their 
time to a mere determining of the 
next decimal place. All the im- 
portant, fundamental work was done. 

In all. Fort’s valuable work is 
marred by the attitude toward pro- 
fessional science which was im- 
planted in him before the turn of the 
century. That high-and-mighty, 

AST— 1 Oh 



we’re-infallible attitude embittered 
him and colored his writing. It did 
Pot color his facts, because he simply 
amassed all the facts he could find 
which science had not found a place 
for — and so stated. 

Willy Ley’s recent article in As- 
tounding Science-Fiction, “The 
Search For Zero,” showed the im- 
mense difficulty science had in get- 
ting started because they didn’t 
know r which facts were basic, which 
facts to start from. Gradually, sci- 
ence has digested and properly co- 
ordinated more and more facts. It 
has, by its own efforts, discovered 
further facts not normally observed. 
Fort’s important work was in col- 
lecting in one place this mass of 
the still unco-ordinated, normally 
observed facts of nature. It is a 
typical prescience collection without 
classification, on the same order as 
the very early cyclopedias of biology 
that classified all animals that lived 
in the water — from beaver and otter 
to codfish and lobster — in one group. 

Unquestionably, Fort’s collected 
facts are important. Only — no one 
yet has been able to find out just 
how or why, or what they mean. 
They are, in other words, a perfectly 
magnificent source-book and chal- 
lenge to writers and readers of sci- 
ence-fiction. “The Books of Charles 
Fort.” is four complete books — “The 
Book Of The Damned,” “New 
Lands,” ;“Lo!” and “Wild Talents” 
in one big eleven-hundred page vol- 
ume. It probably averages one sci- 
ence-fiction or fantasy plot idea to 
the page. And — if only we could 
find the pattern hidden there among 
the vast jumble of facts — it probably 
contains the root truths of about 
four new sciences. It’s not all light 
reading, but it’s a vast mine of fasci- 
nating material for either science- 
fiction or fantasy. 



J. W. C., Jr. 



148 




By Jack liiiliiamson 

Sometimes it isn't the best possible idea fo go bock in time end 



have your enemy killed. That 

Illustrated 

Now the blizzard had died to a fit- 
ful wailing. The aurora shimmered 
through a dark haze of wind-driven 
ice crystals. Drifted snow covered 
half the grounded rocket. Frost 
cracked sharply in the tiny cabin, 
and the girl woke. 



can make things even worse — 

by M. Isip 

Challis, cramped with chill in the 
pilot seat, thought she could have 
been beautiful. But her pinched face 
had the blue pallor of the concentra- 
tion camps, and her thin body was 
shapeless in the shoddy gray of the 
New State labor battalions. 



BACKLASH 



HO 



She sat up quickly, stiff with sleep, 
yet somehow graceful. Challis won- 
dered what would happen when she 
met Captain Dent. Vic Dent was 
his friend, but a handsome devil, too. 
And there were few unattached 
women in the Pantechnicon. 

She went tense, shuddering. 

“Cold, Nadya?” asked the lean 
A merica n 

“The Yellow Guards” — her dark 
eyes flicked past him, quick and 
wary as the eyes of some hunted ani- 
mal — “I thought I heard them.” She 
peered anxiously through a frost- 
rimmed port, into the thick antarc- 
tic twilight. “Can they find us?” 

“I don’t think so.” With a com- 
forting grin, Challis opened a ther- 
mos jug. “We’re lucky the blizzard 
struck. That was three thousand 
miles behind. Levin’s yellow devils 
probably think we went down in the 
sea. So cheer up, kid.” He splashed 
smoking tea into a paper cup. “For- 
get your Russian gloom.” 

Her haunted eyes were huge and 
liquid in her starved pale face. 

“How can I?” whispered Nadya 
Stanislav. “You were splendid, to 
take me away from the labor camp 
— I don’t know how you ever found 
me. But what’s the use?” Her thin 
shoulders shrugged in the gray. 
“Where can we go? Levin rules all 
the world. There’s nowhere left.” 

“My beautiful, hopeless Rah- 
shyan!” The tanned rocket pilot 
grinned cheerfully. “Drink your 
tea.” 

She took one obedient sip. 

“Father came from Russia, but 
I’m American,” she protested 
gravely, “and there’s nothing to be 
gay about. There’s no more America. 
Levin’s New State is a dark monster 
that has swallowed all the world.” 

The face of Challis went bleak and 
hard. 

“Even America.” Llis voice was 



flat and dull. “I was over Chicago, 
in a rocket fighter, when the Eura- 
sians dropped the first uranatomic 
bombs. You can’t imagine — it was 
hell—” 

He shut his eyes in a useless effort 
to shut out all the past, and made his 
hard face smile again. “But now we 
are free, Nadya,” he went on huskily. 
“We must forget all that’s happened 
— everything but the Pantechnicon.” 

Sleep was soft again in her deep, 
throaty voice: 

“Pantechnicon — what is that?” 

“The Pantechnicon is where we’re 
going,” he told her. “We can be 
there in an hour now. I couldn’t tell 
you before, Nadya — your father’s 
there.” 

“Father!” Her big eyes were star- 
ing and black. “They told me he 
had been — liquidated.” She caught 
her breath. “Why couldn’t you tell 
me?” 

“The Yellow Guards were too close 
behind, until the blizzard struck,” he 
said. “I thought one of us was 
enough to take the secret into their 
little Inquisition, in case we got 
caught. Understand?” 

Biting her white lower lip, she nod- 
ded silently. 

“The Pantechnicon has no de- 
fenses except secrecy,” he added. “If 
Levin ever suspect that it exists, that 
will be the end of everything. The 
Yellow Guards would scour the world 
to find us. A single uranatomic 
bomb could wipe us out — and blot 
out the last chance on Earth for our 
kind of life.” 

“My father?” Her huge eyes were 
still dark and bewildered; tears rolled 
out of them. “He’s — here?” 

“This is one continent where Levin 
isn’t dictator.” Challis gestured at 
the rugged wilderness of ice, dark and 
hostile under the veil of flying drift. 
The dying blizzard still made a hol- 
low wailing against the rocket noz- 



150 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



zles. “Here the only rulers are win- 
ter and night and death.” 

Unconsciously, Nadya drew the 
shoddy gray closer to her throat. 

“They’re kinder than the Yellow 
Guards.” Challis turned up the si- 
lent electric heater and made a cheer- 
ful grin. “Years ago, when we saw 
the totalitarian storm sweeping the 
world, we planned the Pantechnicon 
to protect one seed of civilization.” 
He gestured toward the freezing 
dark. 

“It’s hidden here. A scientific 
Shangri La, to be a lamp of culture 
through the dark age ahead. I had 
money enough to pay for it. I found 
people I could trust. The job wasn’t 
easy. We had to keep it secret, and 
Levin moved faster than we ex- 
pected. But we did it.” 

A tear splashed into Nadya’s cup. 
“And father’s here?” 

“We got Dr. Stanislav out of a 
Yellow Guard prison four years ago,” 
Challis told her. “He was one scien- 
tist we had to save because his work 
wasn’t finished. Probably you know 
what he had begun?” 

Nadya shook her head. 

“I was a war nurse, and then coun- 
terespionage. It’s seven years since 
I saw him.” 

“The greatest discovery since the 
uranatomic generator.” His voice 
lifted with enthusiasm. “He has 
found a whole new science. Infra- 
gravities, he calls it. The forces in 
the strange borderland between elec- 
tromagnetics and gravitation. He 
has done things that will amaze you.” 
Challis grinned at her. 

“You didn’t know we came to see 
you in the prison camp?” 

Nadya caught her breath, and her 
big eyes went dark with bewildered 
wonder. 

“Dr. Stanislav has built a projec- 
tion cell,” Challis told her. “I don’t 



quite follow the mathematics. But 
he bends space somehow with an in- 
fra-gravitic field. So that you can 
look across the fold into a place 
maybe half around the world. That’s 
how we found you, and studied the 
prison routine to plan the escape.” 

His brown grin broke her frozen 
astonishment. 

“For all we know,” he finished, 
“your father and Captain Dent may 
be watching us this moment.” 

Her dark eyes looked around the 
tiny cabin uncertainly. 

“Who’s Captain Dent?” 

“Vic Dent was a rocket ordnance 
expert until America fell,” he said. 
“He helped me plan the Pantechni- 
con and flew r in many a rocket load 
of equipment himself. Now that 
job’s done, he’s your father’s research 
assistant.” His grin turned mock 
ferocious. “Even if Vic is my friend 
— I warn you.” 

Her big eyes stared a solemn pro- 
test. 

“How can we be gay while Levin 
rules the world?” 

“My tragic, lovely Rahshvan.” He 
blew her a cheerful kiss. “Wait till 
we’re safe in the Pantechnicon.” 

“I’m not Russian, and we’ll never 
be safe.” Shivering, she stared into 
the snow-driven dark. “Nobody ever 
.is safe. The Yellow Guards never 
give up.” 

His gray eyes were sympathetic. 

“Sometimes it’s harder to escape 
from their memory than it is from the 
Guards. But let’s go.” He started 
the throbbing injectors. “The Pan- 
technicon is another world.” 

• 

A crashing blast broke the rocket 
free of the grasping frost. It leaped 
into the flying drift. The aurora 
shimmered pale across the stars. 
Surely, Challis told himself, they 
would never be discovered. Levin 



BACKLASH 



151 



wouldn’t trust explorers this far be- 
yond the reach of the Yellow Guards. 

At last Challis pointed, shouting 
above roaring jets: 

“There it is!” 

Clouds and drift made a ghostly 
floor ahead. Naked black mountains 
lifted out of it, cut a jagged line 
against the pale aurora. A thin gray 
wisp trailed from the lip of- a lofty 
volcanic cup. 

That cloud wisp was all that might 
betray the Pantechnicon. He 
thought no chance rocket pilot was 
apt to guess its meaning. There were 
live volcanoes in Antarctica. The 
mountain’s flanks were too steep to 
be scaled on foot in these incessant 
blizzards, and it would take a brave 
man to dive blindly into that cloud- 
filled cone. 

Nadya w'as staring, eyes bright 
with excitement. 

Challis grinned at her and dropped 
the rocket into the black-walled cup. 
The dense fog of condensation cut 
his vision to a few yards, and he 
snapped on the klystron feeler beams. 

For a moment the fog was lit with 
the blue shimmer of the Nordholm 
field. Damping out convection cur- 
rents, the field held in place the in- 
sulating cloud that protected the cra- 
ter from the savage cold above. 

The rocket dropped below the ceil- 
ing, and Nadya saw the Pantechni- 
con. Challis heard her breathless 
cry and turned from the controls. 
Elation had colored her thin face. 
He knew that she was beautiful. 

He landed on the narrow runway 
blasted out of the cragged north 
slope. Nadya hastily powdered her 
nose as he unsealed the valve. They 
climbed out, and Challis waved at 
the sentry in front of the hangar cut 
into the black cliffs. 

“Only one man with a pistol?” 
Nadya was astonished. “Against all 
the Yellow' Guards?” 



“If they find us,” Challis said, 
“nothing is going to help.” 

From the runway’s edge they 
looked down across the Pantechni- 
con. The gray cloud roof floated be- 
tween sheer basaltic walls. Red cat- 
tle grazed green meadows on the flat 
crater floor. A crawling tractor com- 
bine w'as harvesting yellow wheat. 
Young trees stood softly green along 
the quiet streets of a red-tiled village. 
Clear as bells, the voices of children 
playing ball came up to the high run- 
way. 

“Such peace,” whispered Nadya. 
“It can’t be real!” 

Challis saw her tears, and his voice 
went matter-of-fact. 

“Vaults are cut in the mountain 
under our feet,” he said. “The}' are 
filled with the books that Levin has 
been burning. Our museums contain 
all the art treasures arid scientific 
equipment we had time to gather.” 
“We have a few scientists — such as 
your father. Doctors, artists, engi- 
neers. But more of us are just plain 
common people, farmers and me- 
chanics, carpenters and miners and 
printers. A couple of hundred, alto- 
gether; enough to be a permanent 
nucleus of civilization.” 

Nadya gulped back a sob. 

“It’s all so happy,” she whispered. 
“So bright and warm and quiet. Just 
like a peaceful country village!” She 
saw the American flag flying over the 
schoolyard where the children 
shouted, and saluted solemnly. “You 
don’t know' what that flag means to 
me.” Her voice was choked. “Not 
unless you’ve had to kneel in the mud 
to Levin’s lightning banner.” 

Challis looked away from her wet 
face; tears made him uncomfortable. 
He gestured across the bright floor 
of the black-walled valley. 

“Indirect lighting,” he said. “New- 
type fluorescent tubes, powered from 
the uranatomic generator. The vol- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



IS? 

came soil is rich enough to grow five 
or six crops a year. Besides, the hy- 
droponic gardens — ” 

“Forgive me for going soppy.” 
Nadya dried her eyes. “Let’s find 
my father.” 

“His lab is in Pantechnicon 
Tower.” Challis pointed at a tall, 
graceful building beyond the red- 
tiled town. “See the silver bubble on 
the roof? That’s his projection cell 
that we used to find you.” 

With a casual greeting to the sen- 
try, Challis led her down a long ramp. 
Hibiscus splashed huge red blooms 
beside them, and a mockingbird 
trilled. A silent electric car stopped 
at the foot of the ramp, and a tall 
man got out. 

“Vic Dent,” Challis murmured. “I 
warned out.” 

“I heard your jets, Challis.” 
White teeth smiled out of Dent’s 
brown, handsome face. He wore 
grease-spotted coveralls like an of- 
ficer’s uniform. Shaking hands with 
Challis, he spoke to Nadya. “Wel- 
come, darling. W r e expected you a 
week ago.” 

“Yellow Guard trouble,” Challis 
said. “Nadya wants to see her fa- 
ther.” 

Dent jerked his bare dark head to- 
ward the shimmering bubble on Pan- 
technicon Tower. His lean face 
looked worried. 

“Something wrong?” asked Chal- 
lis. 

“Stanislav’s rebuilding the projec- 
tion cell into some sort of weapon,” 
Dent told him gravely. “He wants to 
attack Levin. I told him we’re safe 
so long as we just lie low. But he 
won’t listen to reason.” 

“He’s bitter,” Challis agreed. “I’ll 
talk to him.” 

Pantechnicon Tower was the com- 



munity’s heart. The great urana- 
tomic generator was in its basement 
vaults. The long wings contained 
libraries, lecture rooms, and labora- 
tories, planned to keep science a liv- 
ing, growing thing, even in this exile. 
An elevator lifted them past the ad- 
ministration offices to Dr. Stanislav’s 
laboratory. 

The big Russian limped heavily to 
meet them across a long, cluttered 
room and took Nadya in his arms. 
His gray-streaked beard didn’t quite 
hide the long white scar w’here a 
uranatomic bomb had burned one 
side of his face. 

“Nadya — my little Nadyezhda!” 

Challis and Dent assumed a tact- 
ful interest in the big tri-polar infra- 
gravitic field coils Dent had been 
busy winding. Soon Stanislav called: 

“Come up to the cell. Challis, I’ve 
got something to show .you.” Emo- 
tion quivered in his deep voice. “At 
last I’ve got a weapon that Levin 
can’t beat.” His dark, hollow eyes 
looked down at the thin girl. “At 
last, little Nadya, I can pay back 
what the Y T ellow T Guards did to 
Sergei and Sonj-a, and my poor Al- 
leyueva — ” 

Gravely, Nadya protested: 

“Please, father — let’s forget. They 
are dead, and now we are free. The 
past is past. It can’t be changed.” 

His haunted eyes glittered. 

“Perhaps it can be!” His quiver- 
ing fingers caught the arm of Challis 
in a grasp painfully tense. “Come.” 

They climbed a metal stair into 
the fused-quartz spheroid. A flat 
copper disk made a six-foot floor. A 
control post rose out of its center. 
Stanislav tapped keys upon it, and 
a muted whine started under their 
feet. Dent dropped a copper door 
into place. 

Standing close beside Nadya, 
Challis had a brief glimpse of the 



BACKLASH 



153 



red-tiled town and the dark basaltic 
cliffs leaping up to the roof of cloud 
beyond. Then a milky glow filled the 
quartz. The whine grew louder and 
abruptly faded. 

Challis felt a faint, giddy sensa- 
tion, as if the copper floor had tilted 
inexplicably. The pale girl made a 
little gasping cry and clutched his 
hand. 

“Watch, Nadya.” The Russian’s 
voice was strange and harsh with 
hatred. “I’ll show yoti Levin.” 

The crystal shell cleared again. 
Nadya caught her breath and Challis 
felt her fingers tighten. The crater 
was gone! The projection cell 
seemed to be floating with them, 
high over a dark, featureless land- 
scape. 

Watching a little illuminated 
chart, Stanislav tapped his keys. 
That dark, flowing world became 



fixed and brighter. Above a sprawl- 
ing city, Challis saw an immense and 
ornate tower. Upon the tower stood 
a colossal statue of a man in uniform. 
One mighty fist was lifted in salute, 
and sodium-vapor tubes made yellow 
lightning flashing in its clutch. 

“The statue of Levin.” Dent’s 
hard voice was crisp as a guide’s. 
“At the New State capitol.” 

Stanislav tapped the keys, and 
they dropped toward the streets. Be- 
neath the colossus, gray death flowed 
in an endless river: gray-pointed 
tanks and guns and armored cars, 
and ranks of robot-faced men in 
gray. 

“The Yellow Square.” Dent’s 
voice held no emotion. “And there is 
Levin.” 

Challis found the stand at last, 
draped in black-and-yellow lightning 
banners. Beneath his colossal statue. 




To get a shave that js a shave 
And look well-groomed in record time 
Use Thin Gillettes. Think what you save ! 
Why four swell blades cost just a dime I 



Outlasts ordinary 
blades two to one ! 



Produced By The Maker Of 
The Famous Gillette Blue Blade 



Ssliillli 




154 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



the black-mustached man in uniform 
looked oddly insignificant. 

“Levin!” Nadya whispered 
hoarsely, and her eyes were dark 
with dread. “Reviewing the army 
that conquered the world!” 

Angrily, Stanislav’s blunt fingers 
fell hard upon the keys. The crystal 
bubble turned milky once more. 
When it cleared, the Yellow Square 
was gone. They 
were floating low 
over a pen fenced 
with barbed wire. 

Ragged men hud- 
dled in it, unshel- 
tered, knee-deep 
in mud. 

The Washing- 
ton Monument 
stood lonely in 
the gray back- 
ground. 

x\n Eurasian 
officer snapped 
an order. The 
gray-clad guards 
turned their ma- 
chine guns 
through the 
fence. The sound 
seemed queerly 
remote in the 
quartz cell. But 
the prisoners top- 
pled into the 
mud. Challis 
started, biting into his knuckles. 

The crystal shell glowed and 
cleared again. The whine was louder 
once more. The fields were bright 
and peaceful beyond the red-tiled 
town, and black cliffs soared to the 
flat roof of cloud. 

Pale and shaken, Challis stared at 
Stanislav. 

“I thought,” he gulped, “there 
were faces I knew. I saw the Presi- 
dent of the United States.” He 



shook his head, bewildered. “But 
the Washington Massacre happened 
last year.” 

The bearded man nodded. 

“It did,” he said. “And Levin’s 
victory parade, in the Yellow Square, 
was three years ago.” His hollow 
eyes burned with elation. “With the 
new tri-polar units I can deflect the 
projection field back through time. 



That’s where I’m going to attack 
Levin — in his vulnerable past.” 

“In the past?” Challis blinked. 
“Things that have happened can’t 
be changed. The future, maybe. 
But the past is real.” 

“Reality is relative.” The dark, 
sunken eyes of Stanislav were almost 
hypnotic. “Science has yet to find 
any absolute. The statistical mathe- 
matics of probability has conquered. 
The facts of yesterday are merely 
more probable.” 




BACKLASH 



155 



Challis shook his head. 

"If we live in a world that is 
merely probable, how are we to know 
it?” 

“We don't.” The big Russian 
shrugged. "Suppose the probability 
against your existence here is a mil- 
lion to one. If the universe around 
you is on the same plane of proba- 
bility, you cannot determine the fact. 
Everything else is equally tenuous. 
For you, in your own particular 
strand of cause and effect, your own 
probability of existence always ap- 
pears to be one hundred percent. 

“But the absolute is always illu- 
sion. The past is merely relatively 
probable. There is a continual 
branching and diffusion of proba- 
bility in the direction of the future. 
It is that which points the arrow of 
entropy. 

"Exploring the past, we seemed to 
be merely phantasmal observers, un- 
seen, without power to influence the 
things we saw . But in fact there are 
certain nodes of probability at which 
we should be able to deflect the ar- 
row of entropy and increasing proba- 
bility, and so determine the course of 
future events.” 

Challis looked doubtful. 

“Then aren’t we lifting ourselves 
by our ow T n bootstraps?” 

"The Pantechnicon is isolated 
from the world,” Stanislav pointed 
out. “That enables it to serve as a 
fulcrum — that w j e can use to lever 
Levin out of existence!” 

He caught a rasping breath as 
Challis asked: 

“W 7 hat is a node of probability?” 

“I’ve found one in Levin’s life.” 
Hate grated in the Russian’s voice. 
“His parents, you know, were shot 
for intellectuals when he was a child. 
Afterward his uncle tried to escape 
to America with the boy — Levin was 
ten years old. 

"They almost made it. They were 



crossing the frontier when Levin was 
wounded and captured by a guard. 
If the bullet’s course had been 
changed through a fractional degree 
the boy would have died. 

“And the arrow of entropy would 
have been deflected along a different 
track of probability.” 

“You can’t change that bullet’s 
course?” 

“But I can.” The Russian’s voice 
rang harsh and resolute. “We have 
the power of the uranatomic genera- 
tor. We have the infra-gravitic field 
through which to apply it. We have 
an isolated fulcrum for -it to react 
against.” Fever burned in his hol- 
low eyes. “Levin is doomed!” 

Captain Dent leaned protestingly 
over the control post. 

“Why, doctor?” His voice was 
low and urgent. “Why not leave 
things alone. I tell you, Levin isn’t 
the monster you think. You see, I 
knew him.” 

Stanislav’s face went dark with 
suspicion. 

“I was military attache at the 
Eurasian embassy,” Dent explained, 
“when Levin was just an ex-lieuten- 
ant in aviation. He was experiment- 
ing with rockets — my specialty — 
when he w r asn’t expounding his half- 
baked New State ideology in some 
beer joint. He wasn’t a bad sort. 
Except, like yourself, he was bitter 
about things that had happened in 
the past.” 

Stanislav trembled angrily, rasp- 
ing: 

“You talk like an Eurasian spy.” 
He turned to Challis and the girl. 
“Listen to my plan. I have already 
proved that I can look back into the 
past, even with the experimental 
thousand-kilowatt field coil. As soon 
as the new unit is finished and in- 
stalled—” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



156 

Dent's anxious voice interrupted: 

“Challis, you're director of the 
Pantechnicon. You own it, really. 
Are you going to allow such a thing?” 
His lean brown face looked tense and 
desperate. “You planned this for 
a repository of culture. Don’t you 
realize that violence is fatal to cul- 
ture?” 

“No more fatal than passive sur- 
render,” Challis said. “The Pan- 
technicon is a democracy. I have 
kept no authority for myself. If the 
thing came to a vote, Stanislav might 
win — if he could really stop Levin. 
None of us here are friends of the 
New State.” 

“Tf you are all insane — ” 

Dent choked off his angry voice 
and stamped out of the room. Fif- 
teen minutes later Challis heard the 
scream of rocket jets. Blue flame 
was swallowed in the gray cloud ceil- 
ing. At the hangar, Challis found 
the sentry nursing a scalp wound. 

“It was Dent,” the sentry gasped. 
“He gave me this before he hit me.” 

The crumpled note was addressed 
to Challis: 

Sorry, old man, but Stanislav hit the 
mark. I really joined you as a New State 
secret agent. I liked the original purpose 
of the Pantechnicon. But this mad plan to 
murder Levin recalls me to a duty I had 
almost forgotten. I can’t begin to express 
my regret. So long. 

Vic Dent. 

Challis stared down across the red- 
tiled town, and the white tower, and 
the bright fields cupped within the 
sheer black cliffs. The note fluttered 
out of his stiff fingers. 

This meant the end of the Pan- 
technicon. 

Levin’s rocket base at Capetown 
was only four or five hours away. 
No defense was possible. A single 
uranatomic bomb could sear all life 
from the crater. The triumph of the 



twisted, fantastic New State ideology 
would be complete. 

Unless — 

Challis caught his breath and hur- 
ried back to the Pantechnicon Tower. 
If Stanislav’s plan would work at all, 
they had no choice but to try it now. 
There might be time to finish wind- 
ing the new field coil and get it in-, 
stalled before the rocket bombers 
came. 

Still, eight hours later, no bellow 
of rockets had come through the gray 
cloud roof. The new coil was wired 
in place beneath the copper disk. 
Challis followed the limping Russian 
up into the big quartz bubble. Anx- 
iously, Nadya begged from the stair: 

“Father, may I come, too?” 

Stanislav shook his scarred, hag- 
gard head. 

“No, my little Nadyezhda,” he 
protested. “I’m afraid there’s too 
much danger. The first bomb will 
surely destroy the projection cell here 
on the tower. We can’t really escape 
into the past, remember. There is 
merely a tenuous projection that lasts 
only so long as the field is maintained 
by power from the generator here. 
You’ll be safer with the others in the 
library vaults.” 

Her dark, frightened eyes looked 
pleadingly at Challis. 

“Please—” 

But Stanislav dropped the copper 
door and started the whining mecha- 
nism. 

“There’s no time to waste. Dent’s 
first bomb will cut off the power and 
leave us helpless.” He thrust a worn 
notebook into Challis’ hands. “Here 
are the components of Levin’s node 
of probability. Read them while I 
set them up.” 

Challis read what seemed a con- 
fused jumble of symbols while Stan- 
islav tapped the keys. Once again 
the whining faded while the quarts 



wall was filled with cloudy opales- 
cence. At last it cleared, and the 
black cliffs had vanished. 

Gray light of an overcast dawn 
showed a landscape of snow-clad 
hills. A two-wheeled donkey cart 
was creeping out of a straw-thatched 
village. Above the road stood a gray 
concrete pillbox. Stanislav pointed 
to the barbed-wire fence along the 
wooded ridge above. 

“The border fence.” His voice was 
hoarse and strained. “Forty years 
ago. Levin is driving the cart. His 
uncle is hidden in the straw. But 
watch.” 

The cart stopped where trees grew 
near the road. The boy leaped from 
the seat and a man in peasant cos- 
tume burst from the load of straw. 
They floundered through deep snow 
toward the fence along the ridge. 

Stanislav tapped his controls 
again, and the quartz bubble seem,ed 
to float toward the little concrete 
fortress. Challis saw the stocky, 
swarthy soldier stationed outside of 
it, stamping his feet on hard-packed 
snow. 

The guard saw the fugitives run- 
ning through the trees and snapped 
his rifle level. 

“Watch,” rasped Stanislav'. “The 
first shot kills the uncle.” 

The bubble sank into the snow. 
Stanislav tapped the keys, and it 
moved until the guard was appar- 
ently beside them, within the quartz 
globe. Unaware of them, he deliber- 
ately fired the rifle. The sound was 
a tiny snap, but the running man 
pitched to his face in the snow. 

The boy knelt beside his uncle for 
an instant and then floundered on 
desperately. The guard spat with 
satisfaction and worked the rifle’s 
bolt and lifted the weapon to his 
cheek again. 

“Now!” The Russian’s voice was 
low and desperate. “The bullet just 
grazed Levin’s head in the past we 
know. And the range is three hun- 
dred yards. It won’t take a great 



SHOPMEN . . . FOREMEN 
■ ~ .- Train - — 

For the Job Ahead 

Take advantage of the great need for supervisors, fore- 
men, general foremen, superintendents. This need will in- 
crease because of the Defense Program and the business 
boom. Add to your present ability the knowledge which 
will prepare you for these better jobs. You can do ib 
ejuiclcly, in your spare time at home, at moderate cost. 
1-aSalle Modern Fore mans kip training is condensed, inter- 
esting, practical — what you study tonight, you can use on 
the job tomorrow. It was built by experienced factory men 
and is taught by experienced shopmen. Write for our free 
48 page booklet, '‘Modern Foremanship." It tells of the 
opportunities and gives full details of out training. It's 
FREE. Mail this ad or write today. 

LASALLE EXTENSION UNIVERSITY 
A Correspondence Institution 

Dcpt.765-MF.CHIC AGO 



ANY PHOTO ENLARGED 




Six* I x 19 inches sr smaller If de- 
sired. Same price for full length or 
bust form, groups, landscapes, pet 
animals, etc., or enlargements of any 
part of group picture. Safe return of 
original photo guaranteed. 



47 ‘ 

3 for $1.00 



snapshot (any size) 
and within a week you will receive your beautiful 

enlargement, guaranteed fadeless. Pay postman 47c plua 
postage— or send 49c with order and we pay postage. Big 
16x20-inch enlargement eent C.O.D. 78cp!un postage 



STANDARD ART STUDIOS, 1 13 S. Jefferson St., Dept. 771- H.Chie»c« 



UeapJj 



I'll Finance 
Your Tuition 

„ Learn by Doing, in 12 weeks, in bis 
shops of Coyne — Not home study or cor- 
respondence. Earn while learning. Free em- 
ployment service after graduation. Write forde- 
tafls of my Pay after Graduation Planand Free book . 
COYNE ELECTRICAL SCHOOL, Dept. Bl- 45, 
500 South Paulina Street - . Chicago, Illinois 




IF I Send 
JHIB FINE SUIT— I 

Will You Wear It and Show It to Friends? 

1 need a reliable man inyourtewntowearefine made-to-measure. 
- all-wool DEMONSTRATING SUIT— advertise my famous Union 
clothing 1 — and take orders. You can makeup to $12.00 in a day . My line 
contains over 150 quality woolen* .all sensational values, guaranteed. 

CASH IN ON PARTIAL PAYMENT PLAN 

on need no experience or money. 1 supply everything required 
- FREE. Write me today for FREE details. 

STONEFIELD, 1300W. Harrison, Dept.u-952,Chicago 

WORK FOR. THE 

■ mm 




GOVERNMENT 



$1260 to $2100 a- • 

YFAR v # Franklin Institute, Dept. W 195, Rochester, N.V. 

Sirs: Rush without charge (.1) 32-page book 
PREPARE n 5 with list of U. S. Government Jobs. (2) Tell 
NOW *s> bo\r to Qualify for one of these jobs. 

Mail Coupon o ^arae 

Today SURE/ Address 



153 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



deflection of the rifle barrel to make 
the wound fatal. Get ready!” 

The thick steel barrel felt cold 
and solid to Challis. It seemed 
strange that the squinting guard 
couldn’t see them. Stanislav kept 
his eyes on the moving chart and the 
lighted dials beside it. Low and sav- 
age and triumphant, his voice 
croaked: 

“'Three seconds, two, one — now!” 

Challis flung all his strength 
against the steady barrel. His mus- 
cles cracked with effort, but it didn’t 
seem to move. He watched the quiv- 
ering needles. Somehow, he knew, a 
million kilowatts of energy was flow- 
ing through his body. But it wasn’t 
merely a gun that he pushed against. 
It was the inertia of a world. 

“Harder!” gasped Stanislav. 
“Can’t you—” 

Challis surged desperately. A nee- 
dle quivered. The gun jerked in his 
hand. The sentry spat again and 
ejected the fired cartridge. Far 
away, the running boy dropped 
limply into the snow. The Russian’s 
scarred face twisted with elation. 

“We’ve done it,” he shouted. 
“Levin’s dead!” 

Trembling with eagerness, he 
tapped the controls. 

“Levin’s dead,” he rasped again. 
“The whole structure of probability 
is altered. Let’s go back to see the 
new world we have made.” Milky 
light hid the stamping sentry and 
the dead youth in the snow. “With- 
out Levin’s military genius, Eurasia 
could never have conquered the 
West. The democracies must have 
triumphed. Let’s look at England.” 

The white mist cleared again. 

‘'Here,” whispered Stanislav, “is 
Lond— ” 

His voice was gone and his jaw fell 
slack. 

A blood-red sun burned dimly in 



a strange copper sky. Red mud 
stretched in endless flats, cut with 
black, sprawling gullies. A few skele- 
tal girders jutted out of the mud. A 
gully was dammed with shattered 
masonry. Nothing else showed that 
men had ever been here. 

There was nothing alive. No wing 
moved in all that brazen sky. There 
was only red dust blowing out of tjie 
west. Stanislav made a choked, 
stricken sound and tapped the keys 
again. 

Hoarsely, Challis whispered: 

“What ghastly thing caused that? 
Let’s see if America escaped.” 

The crystal sphere clouded again 
and cleared. But America was no 
different. The naked land was 
slashed with wind and rain. Red 
alluvial flats spread desolate from 
every elevation, and new canyons 
slashed them. Stanislav shrugged 
hopeless. 

“The world was like this,” he mut- 
tered, “before life ever came out of 
the sea.” 

“Why?” whispered Challis. “We 
must find the cause.” 

Year by year they probed the 
past, until they found a city on the 
eve of its doom. Millions had fled, 
uselessly. The few who remained 
were coughing, clutching their 
throats, dying. The bodies crum- 
bled, and red dust swirled on the high 
west wind. 

Stanislav dropped the cell beside 
an abandoned newspaper stand, and 
Challis read the black-lettered warn- 
ing: 

VIRUS THREATENS AMERICA 

Washington officials admitted today that 
all efforts have failed to discover protec- 
tive measures against the “red dust.” This 
is now established to be a synthetic virus, 
which destroys all organic matter. It is 
believed to have been developed by Eura- 
sian military biologists as a weapon against 
the Anglo-American Army of Occupation. 



BACKLASH 



159 



If that is true, its creators were the first 
to be destroyed. The most of Asia is re- 
ported already desolated, and every dust 
storm — 

A tiny reddish mote fell upon the 
faded page. A ragged hole swiftly 
grew. The sheet crumpled into crim- 
son dust, and a red wind swirled it 
across the pavements. A running 
man tore the dissolving mask from 
his face and clutched his throat and 
died. 

The keys clicked, and kindly light 
obscured the crystal walls. Chailis 
stared at the old Russian, too ill to 
speak. Hunched over the control 
pillar, Stanislav looked haggard and 
hopeless and old. 

“I’m turning back.” His dull, hol- 
low eyes watched a trembling needle. 
“Now something is wrong back at 
the Pantechnicon. The power’s fail- 
ing. If the field collapses while we 
are projected, I think we shall be 
electrocuted.* 

That didn’t seem to matter. 

“The red dust—” Chailis shud- 
dered, imagining that swift and ter- 
rible decay in his own lungs. “It 
must have swept the whole world, ex- 
cept Antarctica.” 

“Don’t you remember?” The hol- 
low eyes of Stanislav glittered at him 
queerly. “That was nine years ago.” 

Chailis felt confused and ill. 

The bubble cleared again. He 
peered out in dull-eyed wonder. This 
was the crater. But the Nordholm 
field had failed, and the roof of cloud 
was gone. The lights were out. Un- 
der the pale aurora, the fields looked 
black with frost. Nothing moved. 
The Pantechnicon was dead. 

“I don’t see anybody,” he rasped 
anxiously. “Where’s Nadya?” 

The old Russian’s voice seemed 
dull and remote: 

“Nadya isn’t here.” He made a 
slow, confused shrug. “Don’t you re- 
member? Nadya never got here.” 



His scarred fingers gripped Chailis’ 
arm. “It is just us two.” 

Chailis jerked away. 

“Nadya — I’ve got to find her!” 
For Nadya was life in this empty 
world where dreadful death had con- 
quered. He flung up the copper door 
and ran down the metal stair. The 
laboratory was dark and musty and 
cold. He called Nadya’s name in a 
voice turned thin and sharp. Only 
emptiness answered. 

“Nadya isn’t here — remember?” 
It was her father’s voice, croaking 
down the stair. “But perhaps we 
can bring her back. See if you can 
fix the generator while I check the 
components we observed. We’ve got 
a job to do — remember?” 

The bitter memory came back. 
No wonder he had tried to forget. 
Of course Nadya wasn’t here. She 
had been lost, with Vic Dent and the 
rest, nine years ago. The red-dust 
virus must have got into the rocket 
before they left America. 

The elevator wasn’t working, and 
even the battery-powered emergency 
lights had almost failed. Already 
shivering, Chailis felt his way hastily 
dowm the winding stairs to the gen- 
erator vaults. 

The dead machine was suddenly 
familiar. For nine years he and old 
Stanislav had been alone here, the 
only men alive. For nine years he 
had tended this generator. Now the 
last uranium-cathode element w as al- 
most burned out, and there w r ere no 
more spares. Carefully he reset and 
realigned the thin, pitted fragment 
of the plate, sealed the safety door 
and tripped the ignition bomb. 

The lights came on again. Chailis 
hurried back to the time cell. Stan- 
islav was hunched over the control 
pillar, making swift calculations and 
setting the keys. He looked up 
quickly, with a silent question in his 
haunted eyes. 



160 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“A few minutes,” Challis said. 
“Maybe an hour, if we don’t over- 
load it.” His hands spread in a help- 
less gesture. “The end of the last 
plate. When it’s gone, we are.” He 
peered at Stanislav’s scrawled nota- 
tions. “Have you got anything?” 

“The analysis proves my point.” 
Hunched over the keyboard, the 
bearded Russian muttered abstract- 
edly. “Violence results only in vio- 
lence. The red dust was a violent 
result of the violent suppression of 
Eurasian nationalism by the white 
races.” 

His blunt fingers tapped the keys. 

“However, to find the node of 
probability, we must go farther back. 
I found the creator of the virus. He 
was once a village clergyman. He 
saw a small boy shot down by a 
frontier guard. It was that last bit 
of ruthless violence that made him 
change his vocation, to become a 
military biologist. 

“That boy’s death is the factor we 
must alter.” 

“We haven’t much power left,” 
Challis reminded him, “to alter any- 
thing.” 

Antarctic cold was already 
deadly in the crystal cell. But Chal- 
lis dropped the copper door, and 
Stanislav started the whining con- 
verter. A milky glow once more 
veiled the black cliffs and the tri- 
umphant night. It cleared again, 
and Challis saw a winter dawn. 

Snow lay on wooded hills. A low 
gray concrete pillbox stood near a 
border fence with a stamping guard 
beside it. Stanislav tapped his keys 
to drop them toward the oblivious 
guard. He pointed to a donkey cart 
creeping out of a straw-thatched vil- 
lage. 

“You know,” Challis murmured, 
“I’ve got the queerest feeling we’ve 
done this before.” 



“Nonsense,” muttered the Rus- 
sian. “Common illusion — there’s a 
word for it.” He brought them down 
beside the guard. “Get ready to 
push if the power holds.” 

A man and a boy jumped out of 
the cart. They floundered toward 
the fence. The guard fired deliber- 
ately, and the man dropped in the 
snow. He spat and reloaded and 
aimed at the running boy. 

“Three seconds!” rapped Stanis- 
lav. “Two, one — now!” 

Challis flung his strength against 
the rifle barrel. But the inertia of a 
whole dead world held it firm, and he 
was a feeble ghost. A needle flick- 
ered on the post and his hands 
slipped through the steel. 

“The power — ” gasped Stanislav. 
“Try again — we’ve got to save that 
boy!” 

The needle came back, and Challis 
clutched the gun. It seemed queer 
the guard didn’t see them. For the 
gun was real again, and he thrust 
with all his strength. The rifle 
jerked. Three hundred yards away, 
the boy dropped limply. 

“He was hit,” Stanislav whispered 
brokenly. “Perhaps only wounded, 
but they will capture him.” He 
stared at the dials. “Now the field 
is failing. We can’t try again.” 
“But — look!” Challis glimpsed a 
slender figure vanishing among the 
trees. “That was just to confuse the 
guard. He wasn’t even wounded. 
He’s already safe, beyond the fence.” 
The old Russian whispered 
faintly: 

“I wonder what that boy will do.” 
“Let’s look ahead,” urged Challis. 
“Let’s find out.” 

But Stanislav had stiffened with 

cilctrm 

“The field’s too weak already,” he 
said. “We must get back to the Pan- 
technicon before it collapses.” 

His tense hands fell on the keys. 



Milky light flooded the crystal walls 
again and died. Challis saw the cra- 
ter’s black and cragged rim. The 
Southern Cross was pale and cold 
above. Deep snow buried all the 
buildings of the Pantechnicon, as if 
they had never been. Frozen drifts 
covered the tower, even, to the level 
©f the time cell. 

The time cell — what was that? 
Challis, sitting cramped and stiff in 
the pilot seat, shook his head against 
the numbing lethargy of cold. He 
listened again to the hoarse, droning 
voice of old Stanislav at the klystron- 
beam communicator: 

“Experimental Rocket Venus III 
calling Space Station A. Please re- 
lay to Captain Dent, Antarctica Sta- 
tion. We are down in Liberator Cra- 
ter. Generator burned out. Main 
communicator dead. Please rush re- 
lief.” 

Stanislav stopped and listened to 
the phones.' 

Challis turned stiffly. Cold and 
concussion had him groggy. Lucky 
he had been able to drop the crippled 
rocket into this deep snow, or they 
wouldn’t be alive at all. They 
wouldn’t be, much longer, unless 
somebody answered. 

“What has become of the Pantech- 
nicon?” 

The question sounded strange, as 
if somebody else had asked it. Stan- 
islav blinked in a dull, bewildered 
way. He made a weary shrug and 
laid aside the phones. 

“Probably wasting the battery,” 
he muttered. “No way to tell 
whether Station A is above the 
cliffs.” His dark, hollow eyes were 
puzzled. “What did you say about 
a pantechnicon? Isn’t that a sort of 
moving van?” 

“I don’t know.” The cold was a 
kind narcotic, and Challis murmured 
sleepily, “I don’t remember.” 

The old Russian made a troubled 
frown. 



tat 



n BECOME AN EXPERT 

Accountant 

Executive Accountants and C. P. A.’s earn £2,000 to £10.000 a year. 
Thousands of firms need them. About 20,000 Certified Public Account- 
ants in the U. S. We train yon thoroly at home in spare time for 
C. P. A. examinations or executive accounting positions. Previous ex- 
perience unnecessary. Personal training under supervision of staff of 
C. P. A.’b, including members of the American Institute of Account- 
ants. Write for free book, “Accountancy, the Profession That Pays.’* 

LaSalle Extension University, Dept. 765- H Chic«Si 
A Correspondence Institution 




$ 1.98 

5 YEARS Guarantee. 



This 5 year Guaranteed American 
made 16 size solid gold effect 
case, with locomotive design back, mteh C.OJX $1.98. Biggest 
bargain offered. Two tone simulated gold dial. Sock second dial. 
Finely tested quick train lever movement If you order two we give 
you one FREE. Agents Wanted. Order TODAY. Pay price pin* 
postage on delivery. Money Back Guarantee. 

WINEH0LT CO. Box W22 Weedbifie, Penisau 



INDIGESTION 

may effect the Heart 

Gas trapped in the stomach or gullet may act like a hair-trlggat 
on the heart. At the first sign of distress smart men and women 
depend on Bell-ans Tablets to set gas free. No laxative but made 
of the fastest- acting medicines known for acid indigestion. If the 
FIRST DOSE doesn’t prove Bell-ans better, return bottle to us 
and receive DOUBLE Money Back. 25c. For free sample paste 
this ad on postal to Bell & Co., Inc., Dept. W, Orangeburg, N. Y. 



SONG POEMS 

TO BE SET TO 

Free Examination. Send Your Poems To 

J. CHAS. McNEIL 

A. B. MASTER OF MUSIC 
510-SS So. Alexandria Los Angeles, Calif. 



WANTED 

MUSIC 



Is Your Rupture 

HERE? 

Why continue to suffer with rupture ? 
Stop your worries and fears. Send for 
the facts about my perfected truss 
invention— the Brooks Appliance for 
reducible rupture— with the auto- 
matic AIR-CUSHION support that 
gives Nature a chance to close 
the opening:. Thousands bought by 
doctors for themselves and patients. 




Sent on Trial— Made-to-meascre. individual fitting for man, woman 
or child. Low-priced, sanitary, durable. No obnoxious springe or bard 
pads; no metal girdle to rust. Safe and comfortable. Helps Nature get 
results. Not sold through stores— beware of imitations. Write today 
for full information sent free in plain sealed envelope. 



BROOKS APPLIANCE CO.£%3&2: 




Ui 

Classified 



Advertising 



Photo Finishing — Developing 



FREE— BOOKLET! “HOW TO TAKE BETTER PICTURES’’— 
Easy To Get — Just clip this ad and send us a trial roll with 25c 
in coin. Your booklet, developed negatives and eight deckle-edge, 
dated Ray-tone prints, together with a coupon entitling you to en- 
largements will come postpaid by return mail. Money back Guar- 
antee. Ray’s Photo Service, Dept. 3-CB, I>a Crosse, Wi sconsin. 

FREE— ONE ROLL DEVELOPED AND PRINTED FREE. Just 
to get acquainted, we will beautifully develop and print your first 
< to 16 exposure roll Free plus 5x7 inch enlargement Free, also 
sensational, new folding folio to frame your prints, all free with 
this ad. (Enclosing 10c for handling and mailing appreciated.) 
Dean Studios, Dept. 1024, Des Moines, Iowa, 



8 ENLARGEMENTS AND FILM DEVELOPED, 116 aize or 
•mailer, 25c coin; enlarged prints 3c each; special offer: enclose 
advertisement and negative for hand-colored enlargement free with 
order 25c or more. Enlarge Photo, Box 791, Dept. SS, Boston, 
Mass. 



ROLLS DEVELOPED — 25c coin. Two 5x7 Double Weight Pro- 
fessional Enlargements, 8 Glo^s Deckle Edge Prints. Club Photo 
Service, Dept. 17, LaCrosse, Wisconsin. 



ROLL DEVELOPED. 15 prints; or 8 prints, 2 enlargements; or 
8 4x6 enlargements, 25c. Credit for unprintable negatives. Re- 
prints 2c; 100, $1.00. Include this ad for free surprise. Peerless 
Studio, Great N orthern Building, Chicago. 

ROLL DEVELOPED — 16 gloss deckle edge prints or 8 enlarged 
prints 25c. Century Photo Service, La Crosse, Wisconsin. 



Patents Secured 



INVENTORS — Protect your idea. Secure “Patent Guide'' — Free. 
Write Clarence A. O'Brien, Registered Patent Attorney, 1H51 Adams 
Building, Washington, D. C. 



PATENTS — Reasonable terms. Book and advice free. L. F. 
Randolph, Dept. 513, Washington, D. C. 



INVENTORS: — HAVE YOU a sound, practical invention for 
**!e, patented or unpatented ? If so. write Chartered Institute of 
American Inventors, Dept. 42, Washington, D. C. 



Correspondence Courses 



CORRESPONDENCE courses and educational books, slightly 
used. Sold. Rented. Exchanged. All subjects. Satisfaction guar- 
anteed. Cash paid for used courses. Complete, details and bargain 
Catalog Free. Write Nelson Company, 509 Sherman, Dept. H-215, 
Chicago. 



Detectives — Instructions 



DETECTIVES EARN BIG MONET. WORK HOME. TRAVEL, 
DETECTIVE particulars free. Experience unnecessary. Write 
GEORGE WAGONER, 2640-A Broadway, New York. 



Old Gold Wanted 



GOLD— $35 OUNCE. Ship old gold teeth, crowns, jewelry, 
wa^cliea — receive cash by return mail. Satisfaction Guaranteed. 
Free information. Paramount Gold Refining Co., 1599-G Hennepin. 
Minneapolis, Minn. 



Poems — Songwriters 



SONG POEMS WANTED. Free examination. Send poems. 
McNeil, Master of Music, 510-SS So. Alexandria, Los Angeles, 
Calif. 

SONGS— SONG POEMS WANTED. No charge for melodies. 
Free examination. Hollywood Recording Studios, 87Y Preuss Sta., 
Los Angeles. 



Help Wanted — Instructions 

SPECIAL WORK FOR WOMEN. Demonstrate lovely dresses in 
your home. Earn to $18.00 weekly, get own dresses free. No in-, 
vestment. Give age, dress size. Fashion Frocks, Desk 22026, 
Cincinnati, O. 



Miscellaneous 



VENTRILOQUIST FIGURES— TEN DOLLARS— instruction- 
dialogue — Turner Magic Supplies, 511 Faraon, St. Joseph, Mo. 



Nurses Training Schools 

MAKE UP IX) $25-$35 WEEK as a trained practical nursol 
Learn quickly at home. Booklet Free. Chicago School of Nursing, 
Dept. D-7. Chicago. 



“There’s a name I’ve been trying 
to think of — L-something.” Slow> 
numbed hands tugged at his beard. 
“Levin — that's it!” His sunken eyes 
were worried. “But I don’t know 
what it means. Have you ever heard 
the name of Levin?” 

Challis stared at him. 

“Isn’t that an old word for light- 
ning?” Then he started against the 
clutching cold, and his stiff face 
smiled. “Now I remember! I used 
to know the Liberator — we were in 
the same semantics classes at Tech. 
His childhood had been rather terri- 
ble, you know, before he escaped to 
America. Violence had left a mark 
on him. He used to write some 
pretty savage articles for the collec- 
tivist press under the pen name of 
Levin. It’s fortunate for the world 
that American democracy soon cured 
him of that bitterness. 

“But what did you want to 
know’?” 

“I’ve forgotten.” Stanislav 
shrugged, and his stiff hands picked 
up the phones again. He repeated 
the call for aid, while Challis 
pounded his knees to fight the creep- 
ing cold. Suddenly Stanislav begged 
for quiet. Challis tried to keep 
awake. 

At last the old Russian dropped 
the phones. 

“That was Nadya!” Hope burned 
again in his hollow eyes. “Relayed 
back from Antarctic Station. She 
says her husband has already blasted 
off in the relief rocket. He’ll be here 
soon.” 

“Good old Vic!” 

But the cold was a heavy narcotic, 
and Challis let his mind drift again. 
In spite of all her Russian gloom, 
Nadya Dent was very beautiful. If 
Vic Dent hadn’t met her first, he 
thought sleepily, things might have 
been different. 

THE END. 




BE SMART! Enjoy a cooler summer, Duo-Therm’s patented Power- Air breeze, “seashore style.” And Summer 
on easy terms . . . with a marvelous blower operates with the heat off , Cooling is just one of the many “ex- 
New Duo-Therm fuel-oil heater! giving you a cooling 27-mile-an-hour tras” Duo-Therm offers you .'That’s .. 



Why it’s smart to buy this 
New-Style Heater in Summer! 




October! See the many Duo-Therm models at your 
dealer’s — all beautiful! All efficient! Capacities 1 to 6 
rooms. Mail coupon now for complete information about 
America’s leading fuel-oil heaters. 



RADIANT-CIRCULATOR $ 

MODEL 575-2 ONLY 

Model 575-2 Duo-Therm is the perfect answer for 
room heating comfort. Radiates and circulates. 



39 ?? 



/ WHEN YOU ENJOY Duo-Therm’s 
• • summer cooling, you’ve just begun to 
realize all that this remarkable heater will 
mean to you. Notice how beautiful it is — 
built like any piece of handsome fumiture. 

And think of the extra heating comfort 
it’ll give you next winter. Think of how 
it’ll free you forever from the dirt and nui- 
sance of heating with coal or wood ! 

2 AMAZING NEW PERFORMANCE! 

• Duo-Therm’s new, improved Dual- 
Chamber Burner (patented), and Duo- 
Therm’s new, exclusive Power-Air deliver 
an entirely new standard in heating com- 
fort. Heat that is not power-driven, loafs 
at the ceiling. Power-Air drives lazy ceil- 
ing-heat down, giving you warm floors and 
even comfortable heating! And Power - 
Air is adjustable, to give you just the 
amount of circulation desired. 

O AMAZING NEW ECONOMY! Actual 
tests show that Duo-Therm with 
Power-Air uses less cheap fuel oil, and 
gives more heat than a heater without 
Power-Air! Savings up to 25% ■ Com- 
plete flame-control at all settings, with 
Duo-Therm’s new, improved Dual-Cham- 
ber Burner — means more heat from every* drop of oil! 



4 EXTRA FEATURES! Handy Front Dial gives just 
• the heat you want — and Coordinated Control in- 
sures proper draft for perfect combustion ' Radiant 
Doors open to give floods of “fireplace” warmth! Special 
Waste-Stopper saves fuel. Safe! Duo-Therms are listed 
as standard by the Underwriters’ La bora tones . 

5 SMALL DOWN PAYMENT NOW: Select a Duo- 
• Therm with Power-Air Now. Pay no more until 



p 





DUO-THERM 

Ip 



l TEAR OUT AND MAIL— TODAY! 

DUO-THERM DIVISION 

Dept. SS-2A. Motor Wheel Corporation, Lansing, Mich. 

Send me, without obligation, complete information 
about Duo-Therm heaters. I am also interested in 
Duo-Therm Furnaces □ . . . Water Heaters □ . . . 
Trailer Heaters □ . . . RangesO. 

Name 

Street 

City County 

I State 



Copr. 1941. Motor Wheel Corp 



J